Civil disorder

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Civil disorder, also known as civil unrest or civil strife, is a broad term that is typically used by law enforcement to describe one or more forms of unrest caused by a group of people.[1] Civil disturbance is typically a symptom of, and a form of protest against, major socio-political problems; the severity of the action coincides with public expression(s) of displeasure. Examples of civil disorder include, but are not necessarily limited to: illegal parades; sit-ins and other forms of obstructions; riots; sabotage; and other forms of crime. It is intended to be a demonstration to the public and the government, but can escalate into general chaos.[2]

Contagion effects and endogenous processes of positive feedback is another source of explanation for civil disorder[3]

Citizens not directly involved in a civil disorder may have their lives significantly disrupted. Their ability to work, enjoy recreation and in some cases, obtain necessities may be jeopardized. Disruption of infrastructure may occur during very severe events. Public utilities such as water, fuel and electricity may be temporarily unavailable, as well as public infrastructure for communication. Occasionally, the disruption of such services may be the original cause of the disorder.[4] More frequently, the cause of such issues is related to economic stagnation, severe inflation, devaluation of currency, disasters, be they man made or natural, severe unemployment, oppression, political scandal, or, in some countries, sporting events.[citation needed] Civil disorder can occur in any country and environment. Switzerland, a country unaligned with any major organization, suffered from much civil unrest in the weeks prior to its October 2008 elections.


  1. ^ Schurink, W.J. (1990) Victimization: Nature and Trends. Human Sciences Research Council. p 416.
  2. ^ Black, D. (2007) What to Do When the Shit Hits the Fan. Skyhorse Publishing. p 212.
  3. ^ Braha, D (2012) Global Civil Unrest: Contagion, Self-Organization, and Prediction. PLoS ONE 7(10): e48596, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048596.
  4. ^ Vale, L.J. and Campanella, T.J. (2005) The Resilient City: How Modern Cities Recover from Disaster. Oxford University Press. p 299.

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