My PhD supervisor Luke Bretherton, has written this article for the ABC media network's Religion & Ethics web site.
Luke is very involved in issues of faith and public policy, and opens his article saying:
'David Cameron said the rioters represented "pockets" of society that were "sick." His analysis was both wrong and worryingly misguided. To say someone is sick is to suggest they are not responsible for what is happening to them.
Of course the use of medical analogies to diagnose what ails the body politic is an ancient one. But to understand what was going on in the riots we must turn to another ancient metaphor, one found in the stories of Cain and Abel, Romulus and Remus - namely, fraternal rivalry....
...The "shopping with violence" we saw in the riots was the outworking of a consumer culture in which self-worth is measured by material gain and identities expressed through brands.
It is a culture where desire for what others have not only drives the whole economy but mediates social relations: what we gossip about, watch on TV and how we spend out leisure time mostly revolves around consuming and observing what others consume.
The rioters wanted to participate in what they felt excluded from and given the opportunity took it by any means necessary.'
If your looking for some thoughtful reflections on the riots, take a look at the article.