Contexts for Distraction

Henri, Tom and Hutnyk, John. 2013. Contexts for Distraction. Journal for Cultural Research, 17(2), pp. 198-215. ISSN 1479-7585 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper is a critical response to both the events of the popular uprisings of August 2011, which have come to be known as the London Riots, and the subsequent research, policy and media outputs of various institutionally based reporters, analysts and academics in the year that has followed. We examined a range of texts to identify rhetorical devices that we refer to collectively as a set of diversionary and attention-distracting ‘Jedi mind tricks’ . That is, we argue that a variety of commentators on the uprisings deploy a series of media-biased psych-operations or sleights-of-hand in the construction of an apologetic popular discourse on the events of August 2011. These diversionary devices could be constructed as distractions from both the meanings and implications of the disturbances, which would otherwise be obvious and more widely recognized. Hence these are ‘mind tricks’. We use a phrase derived from the well-known intergalactic ideological practice, associated with clerical force and power, because often the ruse of ‘commentary’ is used to conceal and obscure significance and to provide legitimacy for reactionary politics.

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riots, London

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)
Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS)


14 January 2013Published

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Date Deposited:

23 Nov 2012 14:42

Last Modified:

23 Apr 2021 15:08

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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