This sample paper on Vancouver Riots 2011 offers a framework of relevant facts based on the recent research in the field. Read the introductory part, body and conclusion of the paper below.

The term riot is often used in tandem with events like protests, rallies or marches. We think of people with common goals and/or grievances coming together to have their opinions and voices heard. Common themes include injustice, freedom and human rights. We can watch riots on the news on a near daily basis.

Egypt is rioting for the end of an autocratic government, Syria is protesting the dictatorship of their President, and Greece is rioting for economic reform. These protests often begin with peaceful intentions but can lead to emotional flare-ups and violent outbursts.

This moment is when a rally becomes a riot. Those who engage in such behaviours like acting out towards law enforcement, or damaging personal or public property can be considered deviant. These so called-deviants are going against the natural social order of things and disrupting society.

Sometimes such deviant acts are considered malicious or criminal in nature and other times these same acts are considered heroic and for the “greater good” of society. It may become difficult to distinguish what constitutes a deviant act.

For example, two people may engage in burning police cars but if one of those people is doing so in protest of civil war, society sees merit in his/her actions. If the second person is burning the police car in an alcohol-fueled rage against the loss of a hockey game, that person is seen as deviant and their actions are seen as criminal.

Get quality help now
Dr. Karlyna PhD

Proficient in: Human Nature

4.7 (235)

“ Amazing writer! I am really satisfied with her work. An excellent price as well. ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

This paper will focus on the Vancouver riots of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. The main objective will be to take a sociological perspective in regards to crowd behaviour; the deviant act of rioting and the role social media is playing in response to Vancouver riots themselves.

When Was The Vancouver Riot

On Wednesday, June 15th 2011 in the city of Vancouver, hockey fans turned against the city in response to the 4-0 victory of the Boston Bruins over the Vancouver Canucks. Some 100,000 people crowded the streets of the downtown area to watch the Stanley cup game 7 finals and when the outcome was determined, a few so-called fans took their anger and disappointment out on cars, windows and each other. Damage was estimated at approximately $1. 3 million dollars and over 140 people were reported as injured (“A Tale,”2011).

In an article by The Vancouver Sun, Vancouver’s police chief Jim Chu was reported saying that the riot was a result of “young men and women disguised as Canucks fans who were actually criminals and anarchists” (Kane, 2011). Although there has been some backlash for how the police handled the riot, the Vancouver Police department had the riot under control within 3 hours of its outbreak. Canada has a long history with respect to riots and hockey. Win or lose, Canadians have found a reason to riot in response to Canada’s national pastime. The Globe and Mail presents a timeline for hockey riots in Canada.

Beginning in 1955, when Montreal rioted after Maurice “Rocket” Richard was suspended and unable to play for the rest of the season. Habs fans took to the streets to protest the NHL decision and caused an estimated $100,000 in damage. Of the 8 riots mentioned in the timeline, Montreal was host to 5 of them. In 1994, Vancouver rioted in response to the loss of game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals to the New York Rangers. Approximately $1. 1 million dollars in damage, and over 200 injuries were reported. Edmonton has also rioted in the name of hockey, this time for a win.

Edmontonians took to the streets of Whyte Avenue in celebration of the western conference win over the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. The celebration quickly changed its tune as members of the crowd began starting fires and looting from near by businesses. Clearly the relationship between rioting and hockey can be seen as a recurrent theme in Canadian sports history. The Vancouver riots of 2011 are not a new phenomenon. If past behaviour predicts future behaviour, then these riots will probably not be the last (“Hockey riots,” 2011). All riots must be considered as isolated events.

Throughout the entire 2011 playoff series crowds of fans gathered in the streets to watch the games and cheer on their team without incident. In fact, Vancouver hosted the 2010 winter Olympics which boasted huge amounts of people crowding the streets without riots or altercation. To point a finger at all Canadians and say that we are unable to assemble in a crowd without issue would be ludicrous. The only thing that this particular riots can tell us is that a few “bad people” can ruin it for the rest of us. A few people made some poor choices and the city of Vancouver and its residents have to pay.

On a positive note, crowds of people joined together the next day to clean up after the mess that these few individuals made. That speaks volumes about the kind of crowd behaviour that exists in Canada. Most sociological perspectives offer an interpretation of deviance and its causes. The most common approach to explaining deviance is probably conflict theory, stemming from the industrial revolution and Karl Marx (Plath, 2008, p. 2). Conflict theory, in brief, describes the tension between the ruling class and the working class within a capitalist society.

Conflict arises between these groups because of the unequal division of wealth and power. This theory would posit that the oppressed peoples would eventually become aware of their oppression and revolt against those who oppress them (Barkan p14). The concept of two groups vying for power over one another does not seem to characterize the underlying causes of the Vancouver riots. Luke Plath, author of Anatomy of a Riot (2008) discusses how labeling theory coupled with law enforcement presence can lead to violent, unplanned outbursts within a crowd (p. 2).

First, labeling theory is the act of attaching a label to someone and then consequentially treating him/her according to that label. Often, people will internalize the labels they receive and begin to act in accordance with them (Bereska, 2011, p. 79). Plath (2008) mentions that the mere presence of police, even at a peaceful protest or gathering, can instigate the feelings of being treated like a criminal. If enough people in the crowd internalize this feeling of being seen as deviant by the eyes of the law, a peaceful gathering can soon escalate to a violent riot (p. ). The concept of collective behaviour can be incorporated into the discussion of deviant behaviour and its relation to rioting. Steve Barkan (2011) defines collective behaviour as “relatively spontaneous and relatively unstructured behaviour by large numbers of individuals acting with or being influenced by other individuals” (p. 458). Barkan (2011) discusses four main types of crowds: casual, conventional, expressive and acting. Casual and conventional crowds are more general and do not really detail collective behaviour or deviant acts by groups or individuals.

Expressive crowds reflect a group of individuals who gather for a specific purpose and with emotionally expressive tendencies, like at a political rally. If an expressive crowd becomes too emotionally charged, it may progress into an acting crowd and engage in violent, destructive behaviour (p. 459). The word riot can stir up many negative connotations. One definition of a riot is a relatively spontaneous outburst of violence by a large group of people (Barkan, 2011, p. 460). According to the previously stated definitions and oncepts, it would appear that before a riot occurs, the right type of crowd must assemble, under the right type of condition and must include the right individuals who are influenced easily by others. Contagion and Convergence theories can also be used to posit on the cause of deviant behaviour resulting in acts of riot. Contagion theory, made popular by Gustave le Bon, states that individuals are rational on their own but in crowds, individuals can get carried away in the mob mentality and act irrationally and sometimes violent. As a result people engage in collective behaviour and are influenced by the others around them (Barkan, 2011, p. 64). Convergent theory, on the other hand, implies that crowds are not the cause of irrational behaviour but rather, the people within the crowd is what causes the behaviour. Basically, convergent theory says that people with like minds and attitudes will converge together and form a crowd that may act in deviant or destructive ways (Barkan, 2011, p. 464). Contagion and convergence theories provide a framework for analyzing what happens when people in groups become agitated and the snowball effect that can precipitate a full blown riot.

However, these theories fail to address the tipping point that causes groups dynamic to shift from peaceful to violent. Through the process of deindividuation, people act out behaviours in a group setting that are not consistent with how they would act alone (Bhatia, 2011). The accountability of one individual is blurred by the crowd, which can encourage people to act impulsively and destructively (Handwerk, 2005). Combine anonymity, adrenaline fueled sports fans with alcohol and the outcome could be a disaster.

Brian Handwerk describes the psychology behind being a sports fan as an identity and a social network for people to belong to (“Sports Riots,” 2005). This concept can easily apply to mob mentality as well, joining a group of rioters is a way to fit in and be apart of something larger then one’s self. Sometime the need to belong can blur our moral codes of right and wrong. A deviant act is only deviant as long as the power’s that be says it is. To avoid creating a riot culture without repercussion the Vancouver Police Department needs to find those responsible and make public examples of them fast.

If not, The Vancouver Police have the tough job ahead of them to find and charge those involved in the riots. A task that at one time would have been nearly impossible is gaining some help from photos, videos and the Internet. Social media outlets like Facebook and twitter are being employed in an effort to identify the culprits. The Vancouver police have asked citizens to come forward and anonymously provide video footage and photos of the riot in hopes that it will lead to arrests (Bolan 2001). Facebook groups have been set up so that people can join and hopefully identify some of the people in the photos.

In reality, those that participated in the riots will likely go unpunished. However, the social outcry by the public via the Internet and other media is new form of punishment. The Internet has become a forum for people to speak their minds indirectly to these rioting “hockey fans” and hopefully the guilt and shame will be lesson enough. As a native Vancouverite and a Canuck fan, it is embarrassing to watch history repeat itself and all for a hockey game. The riot was not in protest of a tyrannical dictator, or to bring public awareness to the needs of impoverished children, it was far less important then that.

The Vancouver riots were an embarrassing moment, caught on camera and seen around the world. All the sociological theorizing in the world could not make sense of it, nor justify it. It was not due to strain or frustration between opposing classes, it was not due to a learned behaviour or a label placed upon these people. If you look at the pictures of those involved, you will see a handful of adolescents and young adults making poor decisions and demonstrating a lack of respect and pride in themselves, their hockey team and their country A Tale of two riots. (2011).

Retrieved on July 31, 2011 from http://www. cbc. ca/news/canada/story/2011/06/16/f-vancouver-riot-1994-2011. html Kane, Laura and Kelly Sinoski. (2011) Vancouver top cop blames Stanley Cup riots on ‘anarchists’. Retrieved on July 31, 2011 from http://www. vancouversun. com/sports/Vancouver+blames+Stanley+riot+anarchists/4957678/story. html Brakan, Steve. (2001). Sociology: Understanding and changing the social world. Retrieved from http://www. flatworldknowledge. com/pub/1. 0/sociology-understanding-and-ch/364149#pdf-469 Retrieved on July 31, 2011 Bereska, Tami M. (2011).

Deviance, Conformity and Social control in Canada. Toronto, ON: Pearson Canada Inc. Plath, Luke. (2008). Anatomy of a riot. Retrieved on July 31, 2011 from http://www. associatedcontent. com/article/701217/anatomy_of_a_riot_pg3. html? cat=17 Hockey riots throughout Canadian history. (2011). Retrieved from http://www. theglobeandmail. com/news/national/british-columbia/hockey-riots-throughout-canadian-history/article2064096. Retrieved on July 31, 2011. Handwerk, Brian. (2005). Sports riots: The Psychology of sports mayhem. Retrieved on July 31, 2011 from http://news. ationalgeographic. com/news/2005/06/0620_050620_sportsriots_2. html Bhatia, Maneet. (2011). Reflecting on Vancouver: Why do people riot?. Retrieved on July 31, 2011 from http://psychstateofmind. com/2011/06/17/reflecting-on-vancouver-why-do-people-riot/ Bolan, Kim. (2011). Vancouver Police want your riot video and photos. Retrieved on July 31, 2011 from http://communities. canada. com/vancouversun/blogs/realscoop/archive/2011/06/16/vancouver-police-want-your-riot-video-and-photos. aspx I Predict a Riot Jessi Evanoff Sociology 224 August 4th 2011

Cite this page

Vancouver Riots 2011. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

Vancouver Riots 2011
Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7