Gendered Rioting: A General Strain Theoretical Approach
An under-analyzed and under-theorized aspect of riot participation is its highly gendered character: Men typically are more likely than women to riot or be willing to riot. To account for this gender-violence link, we look beyond the social-movement literature by drawing on general strain theory within criminology. Using survey data of blacks taken during the peak of rioting in 1968, multivariate analyses support several hypotheses derived from general strain theory. One reason why black men are more likely than black women to riot is that men report much higher levels of police mistreatment and such individual-level strains are a strong predictor of riot participation. Because violence conflicts with gendered behavioral expectations and related socialization processes for women, we also find that women require high levels of a particular violence-inducing emotion (disappointment about racial progress) to be equally likely as men to be riot participants. These observations call for greater attention to micro-level strain and related emotions in the study of social-movement processes. Results also highlight the continued relevance of selective aspects of breakdown theories of the 1950s and 1960s. We conclude by speculating that the link between gender and rioting helps us understand why authorities and third parties reacted in such harsh and unsympathetic ways to the civil rights movement in the late 1960s.
Sociology not elsewhere classified