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Seller assumes all responsibility for this listing. Item specifics Condition: Like New: A book that looks new but has been read. Cover has no visible wear, and the dust jacket if applicable is included for hard covers. May be very minimal identifying marks on the inside cover. We now turn to these questions. This study gave us the opportunity to examine the various ways in which people define graffiti and the role of context in relation to offensiveness Vanderveen and Jelsma In this article we elaborate several themes that we think are relevant for further research and policy decisions.

Our study measures the evaluation of different types of graffiti in different contexts among the Dutch public. Participants receive a small compensation for their time. The collection of data took place in September Participants could fill in the survey from their computers at home, which took on average ten minutes. All participants completed the entire survey.

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The data are weighed in terms of gender, age, education, family size and region, and are representative of the Dutch population. The survey was based on several qualitative and quantitative pilot studies conducted by the first author which indicated that two aspects are important for whether people find graffiti offensive or not: location and graffiti type Vanderveen and Jelsma For the current study we operationalized these aspects more systematically to test these first findings with a representative sample of the public.

The survey consisted of three parts which resulted in qualitative and quantitative data. The first part resulted in qualitative data. They could type whatever they wanted: words, sentences and stories. The following parts resulted in quantitative data. The second part of the survey consisted of five general statements on graffiti for which participants indicated on a 7-point Likert scale to what extent they agreed 1 or disagreed 7.

We conducted a content analysis of the qualitative data that resulted from the open-ended question in the first part of the survey which asked respondent to write down their first image of graffiti. Content analysis is a method that is used to systematically interpret large numbers of words and texts and can be used to code open-ended survey questions Weber For this study we coded all responses to the open question in order to categorize their responses. The examples of responses for each of the content categories that we offer in the results section are meant to illustrate the categories but also to give the reader insight into our interpretation of the data.

The coding process makes it possible to quantify qualitative data and enabled us to analyse how valence and value judgment are related by using descriptive statistics. The quantitative data generated in parts two and three of the survey were analysed by using descriptive statistics and variance analyses. The survey started with an open question asking participants what their first image was when thinking about graffiti.

A small number of participants 9 per cent was unable or unwilling to give a description of an initial image or idea of graffiti. Those who did provide their first ideas, varied greatly in their descriptions, especially in terms of specificity and approval or rejection of graffiti.

A first reading of the data shows that many descriptions whether neutral, positive or negative refer to places: stations, tunnels, along highways, bridges, rail roads, fences, walls, trains, subways, doors — all places that are known to be popular spots for graffiti writers e.


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Ferrell and Weide A first step of the content analysis was to categorize the descriptions in terms of valence, by sorting them based on whether they made a positive or negative statement, or gave a mixed or neutral description. A second step of our content analysis was to categorize the descriptions based on value judgments. Millie argues that whether something is perceived as disorder or crime may be related to reasons other than legal or moral reasons and that it is essential to unravel the various value judgments for understanding why something is either condemned or condoned.

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Moral judgments refer to the good and the bad, right and wrong, which includes reference to legal norms. Economic judgments involve decisions on economic contributions. Aesthetic judgment is related to what is considered or accepted as beautiful or ugly, or as artistic, in that specific context. Similarly, one type of graffiti may be accepted and even welcomed e.

None of the positive responses involve an economic judgment. Tag not so nice , cool drawings, many colours, sometimes makes buildings or spaces nicer. Some graffiti is really artfully made, but most is just messing with a spray can. I find it sometimes beautiful. That I call pollution. Graffiti can be really ugly but also really beautiful. Vandalism, but there are also nice works of art, depends on where it is sprayed. The open question suggests that participants distinguish between types of graffiti, for example by referring to tags or letters and pieces or paintings.

Several studies confirm that the graffiti type matters for whether people find it offensive and want it removed, or whether graffiti invokes fear. Taylor et al. Austin and Sanders conducted a pilot study among undergraduate students using photography to examine the relation between graffiti and perceived safety. They found that four graffiti types gang, hip hop style, message and murals correspond to different levels of perceived safety: gang related graffiti evoked the lowest level of safety and murals the highest level.

Based on in-depth interviews in focus groups, Campbell reports a similar finding, with tags being judged most negatively, followed by throw-ups and most positive judgment associated with pieces. To further investigate the variety in evaluations, we analysed the standard deviation SD and kurtosis. We can take these measures as indications of consensus, or lack thereof, as they measure the distribution of values around the mean. The measures show that tags are not only evaluated most negatively: there is also most consensus among participants about their negative character.

For pieces, on the other hand, opinions are on average neutral, but there is less consensus, which means that a larger group of participants tends to the negative and another group to the positive end of the scale. These patterns support the idea also suggested by our qualitative data that tags are more readily associated with illegality, which is more likely to be interpreted as negative, while pieces may also be related to art, in which case its quality depends on aesthetic judgments which can be either positive or negative depending on personal taste or artistic value.

In other words, types of graffiti may evoke different value judgments Millie : pieces may be rejected mostly when they are of low aesthetic quality, while tags will be rejected mostly based on legal or behavioural norms. Norm transgression seems to be inherent to the practice of graffiti writing. Nonetheless, as we have demonstrated, not all graffiti is considered to be offensive or a violation of norms to the same extent. We now turn to the question how context matters in how graffiti is received. The notion of context can be conceptualized in several ways.

Many criminological studies focus on the role of neighbourhood characteristics in interpreting signals of behaviour e. Sampson and Raudenbush ; Sampson ; Franzini et al. Innes suggests that graffiti in an otherwise nice neighbourhood is more conspicuous than graffiti in an area where there is a variety of visible problems. Ferrell and Weide ; Dovey et al. Thus, graffiti in one neighbourhood is not the same as the same type of graffiti in another neighbourhood. We take a different approach.

Instead of focusing on the neighbourhood, we study the smaller setting. Several criminologists have underlined the need to study smaller geographical units such as street segments, face blocks and micro places e. Eck and Weisburd ; Hipp ; Smith et al. Cultural geographers have taken this further and investigate how meanings and practices are tied up with spaces e. Sibley ; Cresswell Such insights build on the work of Mary Douglas on the interpretation of dirt as signal of danger. Douglas ; see also Sibley ; Cresswell These studies point our attention to specific norms and expectations that are tied to specific places, but also suggests that we see graffiti as an element that, in connection with other elements, constructs the meaning of places.

Indeed, the photo showing graffiti on a house front is judged most negatively. Also, most participants seem to agree on this greatest consensus indicated by the SD, second most consensus indicated by Kurtosis, see Table 3. Graffiti in a tunnel is ranked second with average consensus and thus evaluated more negatively than graffiti on a shop front.

Here, we suggest, it is the sense of danger inherent to the location that reinforces the negative interpretation of graffiti. The photo shows a dark hole where one would enter the tunnel. It is possible that participants evaluate the tunnel in itself as a dangerous place, as concealment, shades and darkness in urban and natural environments often seem to invoke fear as they signify uncertainty e.

In this context, graffiti adds to danger and then is more likely to be interpreted negatively. These two ways in which context plays a role may come together in evaluating graffiti in a skate park. This context is judged least negatively, but shows least consensus as indicated both by the SD and Kurtosis. That is, participants hold opposing opinions. Cresswell For a group of participants this probably holds true and therefore they find it little problematic. On the other hand, skate parks themselves may be problematic locations, associated with young males often in themselves problematic in public space, see e.

Participants who tend to the negative pole of the scale thus may evaluate this graffiti negatively because their evaluation of the whole setting is negative. If they find skate parks problematic, they are probably likely to find the graffiti in that context problematic, seeing the graffiti as a sign of problems that confirms to them the problems of skate parks.

For the throw ups, the top three consisted of the graffiti on the house front 40 per cent , the shop front 30 per cent and in the tunnel 23 per cent. For the pieces, participants prioritized removal in the tunnel 54 per cent and from the house front 25 per cent. We should note here that while our study presented different graffiti types in different locations, our study did not systematically vary type and graffiti i.

The consequences of this approach are clear when we look at the responses to the tag photos. Unlike the photos of the pieces and throw ups, the tag category included a photo of racist tags. Clearly, when we asked respondents to prioritize removal, the content of the tags mattered most: a great majority of participants 84 per cent chose the building with racist tags. Because the responses were heavily skewed towards the racist tags, we cannot say anything about the role of location for prioritizing the removal of tags.

Clearly, offensiveness depends on a complex interaction between content, type and context. We started this article with questioning the notion that the public usually views graffiti unambiguously as disorder, which is often the assumption underlying graffiti policy and many criminological studies on disorder. We found that most evaluations were connected to two of the four value judgments that Millie distinguishes: positive evaluations are mostly connected to aesthetic qualities, while negative evaluations are connected to aesthetic and moral judgments. Few participants in their initial descriptions made prudential or economic considerations.

This is perhaps surprising, given that local authorities often point to the costs of graffiti damage, costs of removal and to the effects of graffiti for the local environment either as deterioration of neighbourhoods or as contributing to vibrant neighbourhoods. This is not to say that these considerations do not matter at all to the public, but it is not what first comes to mind. Furthermore, we have shown that it matters what type of graffiti people see and in which context they see it. We presented participants with only three types of graffiti, not including murals and newer forms such as stencil art.

Nonetheless, even considering these three graffiti types — the graffiti that policy makers seem most concerned about — judgments vary significantly. Moreover, it seems that the types and contexts of graffiti that are on average valued most positively, are also the types and contexts about which people seem to disagree the most. This further complicates the notion of unambiguous perceptions of disorder. To round up we discuss three themes that we think warrant further attention. First, our study underlines the relevance of unravelling the role of context in interpreting behaviour and signals of behaviour, and what such signals in turn say about that particular context.

Some practices, in our case graffiti, may or may not be viewed as disorder, and even when defined as such, may or may not signal crime or neighbourhood decay, depending on neighbourhood context cf. Innes ; Sampson We need more insight into the conditions under which people find certain behaviour frightening, annoying, criminal or acceptable and this includes investigating further how judgments of actions or behaviour relate to context, large and small. A combination of open-ended exploration with systematic questioning has additional value for both a general understanding of, and in-depth as well as contextual insight into attitudes and judgments.

Second, there is a tendency in studies on graffiti and disorder more broadly to assign certain viewpoints to certain groups: authorities, representing the public, who dislike graffiti versus writers who make graffiti. Actually, the policy practice is diffuse, and so is the opinion of the public. Insight into the various judgments can help structure the debate over whether graffiti should be tolerated, accepted or rather prevented and punished. That is, it matters for policy whether the objections are based on costs or damage that individuals e.

In our study we found that approval and disapproval were based particularly on moral and aesthetic judgments and a combination of the two. However, and this is our third point, shifting from distinguishing groups or various stakeholders to distinguishing value judgments in itself does not help in thinking about who should decide and which value judgment should be valued most.

This is not the place to answer that question, but we think that it is essential that authorities are more explicit, towards the public and towards graffiti writers, about which value judgments they deem important and legitimate. On the one hand, this development seems to have led to more tolerance towards, or in any case a more nuanced view on, graffiti, which is translated into designated graffiti spaces and authorities commissioning graffiti projects.

However, one could wonder whether this is merely replacing the decisive leverage of economic capital graffiti as a threat to local economy and tourism by cultural capital graffiti as artistic and aesthetic value. A more lenient policy may signify awareness to different views on what public space should look like and who may legitimately contribute to and alter it, but it may also be embraced merely because some graffiti contributes to the marketing of cities as creative places.

In the latter case, we could question whether policies have in fact become more tolerant to different views. Insight into and an open debate about which value judgments matter in deciding what is accepted in public space and what not, may help to democratize decisions and explicate the real aims and views of local authorities about the place of graffiti in public space.

This research project also had another, methodological goal: to test the effect of textual descriptions versus visual representations of graffiti on evaluations and appreciation of the survey. To this end, three different versions of the survey were randomly administered: one including textual descriptions of the 18 examples of graffiti; another version showed 18 photographs and a third version used a combination of photographs and textual descriptions.

Analyses of the three subsets revealed that participants did appreciate participating in the survey more when photos were included. However, variations in the survey design did not lead to significantly other findings in the context of the argument outlined here: evaluations of participants are comparable regardless of which version of the survey they filled out Vanderveen and Jelsma For the analyses here, we combine all versions.


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  • In all these pilot studies as well as in the current study, photographs were used. These photographs were taken by criminology students, the researchers or found on the internet. We also analysed possible relationships of sociodemographic variables with general attitude and the perceived disorder scale of the different graffiti types Vanderveen and Jelsma Overall, we did not find any strong relationship. Only age and gender had significant but small correlations, suggesting older people and men evaluate graffiti more negatively. This is for example indicated by the correlation between the general attitude scale sum score and age e.

    However, overall findings indicate that common sociodemographic variables do not vary systematically with attitudes towards graffiti. Skip to main content Skip to sections. Advertisement Hide. Download PDF. Open Access. First Online: 10 September Participants Our study measures the evaluation of different types of graffiti in different contexts among the Dutch public. Measurements The survey was based on several qualitative and quantitative pilot studies conducted by the first author which indicated that two aspects are important for whether people find graffiti offensive or not: location and graffiti type Vanderveen and Jelsma A translated list of the 18 examples is provided in the Appendix photos can be viewed online in Vanderveen and Jelsma No information was provided about whether the graffiti examples were legal or illegal, as participants would usually not know this in reality either.

    Participants were asked to evaluate the 18 examples of graffiti in two ways.

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    Second, participants were asked to indicate which graffiti should be removed first. This procedure was repeated for each of the graffiti types tags, throw ups and pieces. Open image in new window. First Images and Value Judgments The survey started with an open question asking participants what their first image was when thinking about graffiti. Together, the participants made value judgments. In line with what Millie found, value judgments are not mutually exclusive: some of the responses included more than one value judgment.

    We then examined the relationship between valence and value judgment. Table 1 shows that an overwhelming majority of the positive evaluations involve aesthetic judgments, while this holds for a much smaller majority of the negative evaluations. Negative evaluations more often involve moral judgments. Table 1 Valence and value judgments, percentages n in parentheses.

    Below we demonstrate our findings in more detail by offering examples of each of the value judgments. The positive descriptions based on an aesthetical value judgment mostly connect graffiti to beauty, art, form and colour, for example: A beautifully painted wall in Asten. Robot-like figures, letters. Pretty drawings. Complete works of art on overpasses and the tracks. Beautiful art. In the negative judgments, graffiti is associated for example with back streets, offensiveness, deterioration, defacement, impoverishment and anti-social behaviour and called untidy, messy, awful, a load of rubbish.

    Negative value judgments are also mostly related to aesthetics, but a substantial share refers to moral considerations and, to a lesser extent, prudential and economic judgments see Table 1. Often no talent. Ugly and untidy. Dirty, scribbles on walls in the centre. Visual pollution. Negative moral judgments involve referrals to the law and norms of behaviour, such as descriptions of graffiti as vandalism, referrals to private property, anti-social behaviour, foul language and racism: Vandalism!

    Painting by youngsters without having permission to do so. A third category of descriptions offers both positive and negative judgments about graffiti. We can divide this category into two subcategories: those who make only aesthetic judgments and those who make an aesthetic and a moral judgment. Responses in the first subcategory for example say that graffiti can be beautiful or ugly, sometimes referring to type of graffiti or its location: Cool!! Some graffiti is just artwork except racist slogans.

    Here we already see that context matters: it is not just the aesthetic quality of the graffiti itself but also its location. We return to this theme below.

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    The quantitative data supports the wide variety in evaluations. For none of the statements there is an overwhelming majority towards disagreeing or agreeing. In addition, there is no clear tendency towards agreeing with either negative statements or positive statements. For example, the proportion of participants who agrees to being disturbed by graffiti is almost as large as the proportion of participants that disagrees. The share of respondents that is not disturbed by graffiti is about equal to the share that says they feel safer in an environment without graffiti. Finally, more than half of the participants agree that graffiti is an art form, while an equal share agrees with the next statement that graffiti is a common problem.

    The average neutral evaluation thus masks an enormous variety and contradictions in attitudes on graffiti. In our study we examined whether the findings of these small studies hold up in a large-scale systematic and quantitative study among a representative sample of the Dutch public. Responses to the 18 photos, which varied for type and location, shows that evaluations of specific examples of graffiti are more negative than the general attitudes suggest. Furthermore, the score on the perceived disorder scale differs significantly for different graffiti types: tags were evaluated most negatively, followed by throw ups, while pieces were evaluated least negative Table 3.

    The ordering of graffiti types is generally the same for all six locations: regardless of the location, tags are perceived most negatively and pieces most positively results not shown. Austin, D. Graffiti and perceptions of safety: a pilot study using photographs and survey data. Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, 14 4 , — Google Scholar. Beckett, K. Dealing with disorder - social control in the post-industrial city. Theoretical Criminology, 12 1 , 5— CrossRef Google Scholar. Binken, S. Why repressive policies towards urban youths do not make streets safe: four hypotheses.

    Sociological Review, 60 2 , — Perceived danger in urban public space. Environment and Behavior, 37 4 , — Brighenti, A. At the wall: graffiti writers, urban territoriality, and the public domain. Space and Culture, 13 3 , — Campbell, F. Good graffiti, bad graffiti? A new approach to an old problem. Wigan: Environmental Campaigns. Chiu, C. Contestation and conformity: street and park skateboarding in New York City public space. Space and Culture, 12 1 , 25— Craw, P. The mural as graffiti deterrence.

    Environment and Behavior, 38 3 , — Cresswell, T. Geography, ideology and transgression.

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    Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Kitchen Eds. Oxford: Elsevier. Dickinson, M. The making of space, race and place. Critique of Anthropology, 28 1 , 27— Dixon, J. Locating impropriety: street drinking, moral order, and the ideological dilemma of public space. Political Psychology, 27 2 , — Douglas, M. Purity and danger: An analysis of concepts of pollution and taboo. Dovey, K. Placing graffiti: creating and contesting character in inner-city Melbourne.

    Journal of Urban Design, 17 1 , 21— Eck, J.