Riots often occur in reaction to a perceived [[grievance]] or out of [[dissent]]. Historically, riots have occurred due to poor working or [[quality of life|living conditions]], governmental [[oppression]], [[taxation]] or [[conscription]], conflicts between [[ethnic group]]s, food supply or [[religion]]s (see [[race riot]], [[sectarian violence]] and [[pogrom]]), the outcome of a music [[concert]] or [[sport]]ing event (see [[football hooliganism]]) or frustration with legal channels through which to air grievances.
Riots typically involve vandalism and the destruction of private and/or public property. The specific property to be targeted varies depending on the riot and the inclinations of those involved. Targets can include shops, cars, restaurants, state-owned institutions, and religious buildings.
Thus [[Beloff]] comments on the food riots of the early eighteenth century: "this resentment, when unemployment and high prices combined to make conditions unendurable, vented itself in attacks upon corn-dealers and millers, attacks which often must have degenerated into mere excuses for crime". , in his useful chronicle of disturbance, allows himself one explanatory category: "distress". [[T. S. Ashton|Ashton]], in his study of food riots among the colliers, brings the support of the paternalist: "the turbulence of the colliers is, of course, to be accounted for by something more elementary than politics: it was the instinctive reaction of virility to hunger". The riots were "rebellions of the belly", and there is a suggestion that this is somehow a comforting explanation. The line of analysis runs: elementary — instinctive — hunger. [[C. H. Wilson (historian)|Charles Wilson]] continues the tradition: "Spasmodic rises in food prices provoked keelmen on the [[River Tyne|Tyne]] to riot in 1709, tin miners to plunder granaries at [[Falmouth, Cornwall|]] in 1727". One spasm led to another: the outcome was "plunder".ref