Ultimately, underpinning any analysis of the riots should be a recognition of the deep inequality that lies at the heart of British society. So too should we understand the effects of a consumer culture that promotes endless material accumulation, an aggressive sense of entitlement and a demoralising level of status anxiety.
The coalition government's reckless austerity agenda, combined with rising youth unemployment and economic stagnation, is contributing in no small way towards a sense of hopelessness. It's clear that many people feel disempowered, and that some have become disengaged from their own communities, to the extent that they are willing to attack them without fear of consequence.
In focusing on long-term solutions, the government must show it is willing to address the shocking level of inequality that exists in our country. Research by Unicef suggests that the UK is one of the worst places to live as a child or teenager in the developed world – largely thanks to the growing gulf between the haves and have-nots. This is not something that the government has shown any interest in tackling.