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date: 24 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Graffiti writing is often intensely policed despite being a relatively low-harm crime. Graffiti can be read by members of the public as a visual indicator of lawlessness and thus induce a certain amount of alarm. While there are a range of different kinds of graffiti, the most ubiquitous is that practiced by subcultural “writers.” Research indicates that there is an order and logic to writing. Writers often cultivate skills, experiences, and dispositions that imbue them with particular value in the postindustrial economy, offering them heightened career prospects. Graffiti and street art are increasingly featured as part of mainstream commercial aesthetics, even as unsanctioned writing continues to be met with zero-tolerance policing and tough situational crime prevention measures. Ultimately, writing can be managed in a more subculturally sensitive manner that better balances the needs and visions of different kinds of urban residents in local contexts.

Keywords: graffiti writing, subculture, subculture career, criminalization, crime prevention, crime displacement

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