Graffiti Subculture: Youth, Masculinity and Identity in London and New York

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This book is the most extensive contribution to our understanding of the graffiti subculture to date. Using insights from ethnographic research conducted in London and New York, this book explores the varying ways young men use graffiti to construct masculinity, claim power, and establish independence from the institutions which define, and often limit, them as young people. Forging a link between subcultural practice and identity construction, this book will be essential reading for anyone interested in new understandings of youth and their subcultures.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"By demonstrating the importance of gender in the formation and dynamics of youth subcultures, this book represents a challenge to the canon of subcultural theory. A thoughtful and insightful contribution which deserves to become an important text in (sub)cultural studies." —Rosalind Gill, London School of Economics and Political Science

"Macdonald has gone to the heart of the graffiti writers' world and brought to bear the most thorough and provocative research. Her success depends, in part, on her forthrightness, her refusal to condescend and her respect for the writers' enterprise and voice. Her informants are heard loud and clear giving this book an authentic tone that stays in tune with the language of the streets. Macdonald maps out this, largely male, rite of passage and presents adolescence as a period between two worlds: literally in the subway tunnels, figuratively in the subcultural underground. Her candid and often humorous description of the fieldwork process, her unusual perspective as a woman observing men and her well documented conclusions make this book essential reading in the fields of anthropology, sociology and juvenile justice and a very enjoyable read for anyone else interested in art, youth and human nature." —Henry Chalfont, author of Subway Art

"Subcultures may come and go, but graffiti has stuck around with no sell-by date in sight. In its lifecourse it has rarely been subjected to an analysis that is not only academically persuasive, but also wrapped in the walking, talking, painting actions of graffiti coda. This book offers a fascinating portal into the mind of the graffiti writer." —Ephraim Webber, editor of Graphotism Magazine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780333781913
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 1/18/2003
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.45 (w) x 8.64 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Macdonald has lived and worked in London and New York. She currently resides in London where she works as a youth consultant in a brand development company. This book is based on her PhD thesis, which she completed at Brunel University.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures*Shout Outs (As They Say)*Introduction*Climbing Down off the Fence: Locating our Standpoint and Values*Are Theories of Subculture too Class Orientated?*I Woz 'Ere: Tales from the Field*Going Underground: A Journey into the Graffiti Subculture*Constructive Destruction: Graffiti as a Tool for Making Masculinity*Keeping its Distance: The Subculture's Separation from the 'Outside World'*Making a World of Difference: The Personal Benefits of Subcultural Membership*Conclusion*Afterword: Writers Talk Back*Bibliography*Glossary*Index

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