'Is your city pretty anyway?' Perspectives on graffiti and the urban landscape

Michael Rowe, Fiona Hutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Drawing on survey and focus group research completed in New Zealand in 2009 this article examines young peoples’ perspectives on graffiti and tagging. The results further demonstrate that graffiti writing is an activity invested with considerable cultural meaning by many of those engaged in it and that their understanding of graffiti is considerably at odds with prevailing political, media and policy discourse that sees it purely in terms of criminal damage and antisocial behaviour. While graffiti can be conceptualised as an alternative way of ‘reading’ urban space, the results of this study show that writers recognised that graffiti had damaging consequences and was inappropriate in some contexts. Graffiti was not simply nihilistic destructive behaviour but one in which perceptions of criminality were leavened by aesthetic judgements and the allure and excitement of potential local celebrity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-86
JournalAustralian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


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