chapter  5
27 Pages

Graffi ti as a Manifestation of Social Disorder

In the 1970s and the 1980s, the authorities of New York City designated hip-hop culture as a threat to urban order and sought to regulate it. City administrations targeted all three principal manifestations of hip-hop culture: graffi ti, breakdancing, and rap music. However, most of the attention was paid to graffi ti writing because of its disorderly appearance in space. Inscriptions by young Latinos and African Americans began to dominate public space in the 1970s and challenged notions of social and physical order. Although the result of writing was defi ned as physical disorder because quasipermanent inscriptions became part of the physical infrastructure, the act of writing graffi ti was defi ned as social disorder. As efforts to erase graffi ti from buildings, subways, and other facades could not keep up with new inscriptions, the authorities attempted to regulate the mobility of potential graffi ti writers.