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Brewer, D. D., & Miller, M. L. (1990). Bombing and burning: The social organization and values of Hip Hop graffiti writers and implications for policy. Deviant Behavior, 11, 345-369.

abstract     full article

Almost twenty years ago, a stylistic kind of graffiti originated in New York City and has since spread to many major cities in the United States, Canada, and other industrialized nations.  This type of graffiti, known as "Hip Hop" graffiti (HHG) outside of New York City, accounts for a large share of graffiti in U.S. urban areas.  It is found on buses, subways, trains, buildings, bridges, and innumerable other surfaces and ranges from signature "tags," typically written with ink marker or spray paint, to elaborate, polychrome spray-painted murals.  This article, based on ethnographic research conducted in Seattle, first introduces the types of HHG and the social characteristics of writers, and then focuses on writers' social organization and values -- the two key elements to understanding the proliferation of this graffiti.  The paper concludes with several observations on social policies designed to curtail the production of graffiti.

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