The sociology of graffiti

What are we doing to our cities? Maybe they have done it? Graffiti artists have long been around in our cities as we know. We have heard many hostile reactions to their work from the police, politicians and the press. We have heard these over and over. But they seem to have been remarkably ineffective.

However one other reaction we seem to have is to start painting the walls ourselves. These two pictures are typical. One in Slovenia and the other in Australia. Government funded or publicly funded paintings on the walls of our cities. If the graffiti artists had never done their thing in the first place would we now be painting the walls? I would argue, no.

Community graffiti



Comm graf



But look at the pictures we paint. They are not old people pictures of sunsets and rolling hills with trees swaying, instead they are young people pictures. Brightly coloured, dramatic images often with strange and alien creatures. They are in your face images like the graffiti artists have done for years. Maybe we are now copying them.

Maybe they have forced us to recognise their existence in the cities as well. (They also happen to live here). These young people who have no power and no money have forced us to paint our cities with images that reflect the young and creative. They have asserted their power to have their (our) cities to reflect their existence. Sociologically that is a remarkable achievement. A group with little or no power has forced those with the power to behave a particular way.

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