Abstract/Details

A social history of graffiti writing in New York City, 1990–2005


2009 2009

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Abstract (summary)

Based on five years of qualitative sociological research involving unobtrusive observations, in-depth interviews with twenty prominent New York City graffiti writers and extensive document analysis, this dissertation explores two historical trends. On the one hand, it looks at how graffiti writing has increasingly become a legal and commercial practice. On the other, it considers the official reaction to graffiti writing. In exploring these two historical trends a discontinuity is discovered. While legal graffiti writers have come to constitute a distinct coterie within graffiti writing culture, the official reaction to graffiti continues to operate according to the financially costly logic established by the “broken windows” thesis. Within such a view, graffiti, whether legal or illegal, is perceived as activity that will invite other forms of crime and ultimately lead to the breakdown of civic society, or “urban decay”.

A Social History of Graffiti Writing in New York City, 1990–2005 argues that the growing disparity between the official reaction to graffiti and the contemporary realities of graffiti writing culture suggests that the former is motivated by political and economic ends, as opposed to any search for the “truth”. Based on an extensive analysis of many documents, I suggest that the social origins of anti-graffiti initiatives are to be found in specific commercial and political interests. More specifically, I argue that anti-graffiti efforts constitute a “moral panic” that is driven by the political and economic desire to extract the maximum profit possible from urban land use.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Cultural anthropology;
American history;
Sociology
Classification
0326: Cultural anthropology
0337: American history
0626: Sociology
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Broken windows; Gentrification; Graffiti; Moral panic; New York City; Privatism; Social history; Subcultures
Title
A social history of graffiti writing in New York City, 1990–2005
Author
Kramer, Ronald
Number of pages
341
Publication year
2009
Degree date
2009
School code
0265
Source
DAI-A 70/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
ISBN
9781109197280
Advisor
Eyerman, Ronald
University/institution
Yale University
University location
United States -- Connecticut
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
3361507
ProQuest document ID
305040459
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/305040459
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