Thursday, 3 December 2009

Assignment 4D

Sources used:

Ferrel, J, (1995), Urban graffiti: Crime, Control, and Resistance, Youth and Society, 27 (1) Sep 95, p.73-92 1995

Sykes, J, (1979), Designing Against Vandalism, The Design Council, Oct. 1979

Assignment 4C

Reading the article and book and summarising them has highlighted key points and important information to do with graffiti and vandalism, however these sources are just two of many on the same subject. They may seem extremely believable as the facts and evidence are there but to guarantee that this is what should be believed and to expand my knowledge on the subject it would be advantageous to take my studies further.

To do so I would create a detailed list of there key points and conclusions to then find other books and articles on the same subjects. Using the library and the library cross search would allow me to do so and by reading a quick overview of the article on cross search I would decide if they were relevant.

At the end of "Urban Graffiti; Crime, Control and Resistance" there is a list of notes and references that relate to and give links to the evidence Ferrel has used to prove his points. To find out background information and grasp a better understanding of where he is coming from I would look up these references. He refers to a quote from Fiske (1991): "one has to look for the origins of evasion or resistance in the specific social circumstances of those who do this remaking." This quote is extremely important as it appears to be the inspiration to the whole introduction of the article so in this case I would take my studies further by looking up Fiske and find out he arrived at this conclusion.

"Design Against vandalism" lists all the materials and layouts that should be used to prevent vandalism so I would look up these suggested materials to find out how other people view there characteristics in connection with vandalism.

As the article and book were written quite a long time a go now I would research in to any newer books or articles by these authors on similar subjects. I could also look for reviews on the book and the article to see how other people have felt and see if they have suggested any other materials linked with the text.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Assignment 4B


"Youth and Society, Urban Graffiti; Crime, Control and Resistance" is an interesting article by Jeff Ferrel. Ferrel tackles many issues surrounding the young graffiti writer in America and looks in detail at how and why these youngsters resist authority. Before writing the article Ferrel undertakes four years of fieldwork inside the Denver, Colorado graffiti underground. This fact allows us to build trust with the author as he has been there and seen the real life situations, rather than just another academic writing about what statistics show. The primary sources that he draws upon from this field research through out the article prolongs the readers trust and belief in what he has to say and the points he has to put forward. Quotes from numerous individuals; graffiti writers, gang members and council officials as well as many mentions of past articles written on similar studies help the authors points come across smoothly and believably.

Ferrel begins the article by looking at the meaning of resistance as he believes that if you perceive its meaning in the wrong way you can not look at the situation at hand in the correct way. After looking at how resistance has been treated in different contexts in the past he comes to the conclusion that resistance should be dealt as a balanced term one that is not treated too rigidly or too loosely. After this overview of resistance he can now zoom in to the subgroup at hand to discuss it in this context. If you look at the subtitles of the article; "Forms of Graffiti and Forms of Resistance", "Urban Authority, Social Control, and the Writing of Resistance", "Resistance, Identity, and Alternative Arrangements", and "Youth and Resistance", you can see that understanding resistance really is important to understand the remaining of the article as it is dealt with in every aspect.

Many interesting points are highlighted and brought to attention within the article. The techniques that have been used and suggested in some American states to stop graffiti are shocking and seem unnecessary. However the quotes from graffiti writers in the article show that the action of authorities is met with a "pleasurable response" as it creates a bigger "adrenaline rush," which as Ferrel shows is one of the main reasons people do graffiti. This provides the reader with an important point, one that can be learnt from; The harder graffiti is tackled, resistance from graffiti writers will appear bigger, better and cleverer. So to tackle graffiti the authority themselves must become clever and disguise there actions, not letting the offenders create a bigger war. The second important point drawn in the article is that graffiti is all about community, it creates communities within communities, communities of communication between like minded people. This alternative community is said to create "status and identity" and a "sense of family" to individuals and crew members. This is said in the article to bring together ethnic minorities, keep young people away from other more serious crime and out of gangs. They contribute to the community by painting commissioned pieces for schools and youth clubs. Bringing all this together we can conclude that Ferrel is really quite positive about graffiti writing and it appears that he feels that it is a admirable thing that these kids are doing, creating alternatives to the overbuilt cities that they are forgotten about and lost in.

The book "Design Against Vandalism" tries to provide as many answers to vandalism as possible in respect to different situations and places. It offers answers to those who would be dealing with vandalism ie. local authorities, manufacturers, designers and architects. The book is split up in to different chapters, written by individuals from different fields of research making it easy for those concerned to read the most important parts for them. The book doesn't miss any details, explaining clearly why things have went wrong in the past with certain approaches, and provides ideas and inspiration to how these things could be tackled better in the future.

The book sets out first to describe what kind of vandalism there is, who it is done by and why. It highlights different reasons such as the innocence of age; young children do not understand the value of property and so will play games that may result in unintentional damage. Peer pressure, status, respect and daring are highlighted as the reason why young teens vandalise moving on to more serious reasons such as revenge to individuals or institutions, general frustration and boredom. Other reasons behind vandalism are said to be for competition, the sheer excitement, political and peer pressure campaigns and simply the unintentional vandalism created by everyday wear and tear of bad design in our environments.

Many schemes are looked in to in detail to give examples and evidence behind the authors reasoning but the scheme which is focused on the most is "The Cunningham Road Scheme" which was initiated by NACRO (National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders) in Windes council housing estate, London. The author Ann Blaber describes the problems that faced the estate and why schemes to help hadn't worked in the past, coming to the conclusion that the largest cause of failure was the communication gap between tenants and council officials creating resentment between each others actions. Small group meetings between tenants and council officials were held along with a 3rd party to eradicate the resentment and get them talking about what was important. The scheme showed that involving the community in actions made them loose there feelings of apathy and helplessness and created a happier community. It is said in the book that vandalism is "one expression of the frustrations and disappointment of a community," but by eradicating this frustration and disappointment like the Cunningham Road Scheme, vandalism can slowly disappear. People start feeling like they care for there surroundings as they feel like they belong to them rather than the council coming in and doing what they want to be done making it feel like it belongs to the council. After looking at other schemes such as Bedford City Councils police scheme and surveys done in Greater London the book concludes that the key to tackling vandalism in council estates is management, community groups, feedback, scale and surveillance.

As the book believes that deliquent behaviour occurs when oppurtunities exist to do so it goes about explaining all the most vandalism prone areas so that these oppurtunities can be eliminated. It describes problems and answers to graffiti, lighting, street furniture, vending machines, toilets, garages, shops, empty property and building sites, looking in particular at schools and childrens playgrounds. It suggests what materials and layouts would be most advantagoues, and where and when alarm systems would be necessary. Overall providing all the information that one would need to create a vandalism free environment.

Both the article and the book have provided me with an expansive amount of knowledge and background in to the area of graffiti and in to vandalism as a whole. They both answer the question of why people vandalise but whereas "Design Against Vandalism" describes elaboratley why people vandalise, "Urban Graffiti; Crime, Control and Resistance" focuses more on how and why people resist authority. I feel that the articles ambitions are to show how authority have tackled resistance in the wrong way so that in the future they can look at it from the graffiti writers perspective taking in to consideration there thoughts, feelings and motives before carrying on the war of resistance. This way of reporting is quite personal as the author includes many quotes to get across these feelings. The book is more impersonal as although it draws on real experiences it is aimed more at providing straight forward descriptions and answers to places and objects. I feel both the book and the article are succesful at providing the information and conclusions they set out to provide. They are a mixture of opinion and evidence-based studies and provide help and hope for the future of tackling graffiti and vandalism.

Assignment 4A

For Assignment 3 I used the Library and Library Crossearch to find articles and books to do with all aspects of Graffiti as I produced a new idea of Graffiti removal for Assignment 2. The boks/ articles I have decided to read/ look at in more detail for Assignment 4 from my collated bibliography are; Youth and Society, Urban Graffiti: Crime, Control and Resistance and the book, Design Against Vandalism. They tackle different issues but are still appropriate to my first ideas. The article on Urban Graffiti looks at why and how graffiti writers resist authority and why they do it. Design Against Vandalism mentions graffiti but looks at the bigger issues of vandlism as a whole and how to tackle them. Together they give me a better understanding of the psychological reasons for vandalising and provide me with detailed information on how it needs to be dealt with in the future drawing on past experiences. This in turn helps me to reflect on my idea for Assignment 2 in a different light, giving me greater knowledge and inspiration for the future.

Activity 4A

Ferrel, J, (1995) Youth and Society, Urban Graffiti: Crime, Control, and Resistance

The main purpose of this article is to define what resistance is so that it can be discussed in the area of youth graffiti writing, giving a better understanding of how and why graffiti writers resist authority.

The key question the author is addressing: How does the resistance of graffiti writers and the authority of higher bodies intersect and interweave and how do graffiti writers shape resistance to existing and alternative arrangements. ("What, though, is the larger cultural and political context in which this wildly popular style of graffiti writing proliferates? And precisely what forms of authority does this graffiti writing resist?") All of the questions relate to each other and are appropriate which makes it easy to find the answers highlighted later in the article.

The most important information in this article: own experience (ongoing field research and participant observation inside the Denver, Colorado graffiti underground), over viewing and drawing from similar stories and experiments.

The key secondary sources used are: Quotes from numerous individual; graffiti writers ("Personally I want to hit on city stuff, like bridges, rather than some other person's property, They build the boringest crap around, so why not beautify it?"), gang members and council officials. Past articles written on similar studies (resistance within other areas of society; resistance in metropolitan settings, resistance among peasants and other dominated groups).

The key primary sources used are: Field research gathered by the author himself by observing and participating in the graffiti scene. Interviews he conducted with Denver legal agents and political officials. Newspaper searches and other forms of document research in various US cities.

The main inferences/ conclusions in this article: The author concludes that the right way in which we should perceive resistance in relation to graffiti writing is to focus on the various forms of everyday resistance and the situated meanings that surround and define them. Perceiving youthful graffiti in this way allows him to conclude that graffiti is not always mindless destructiveness but young people imagining and creating new social arrangements within urban environments. The author stays on track right the way through the article so it is easy to follow and understand where these conclusions arrive from.

The key concepts we need to understand: You need to grasp a good understanding of resistance so that when it is discussed with in the area of graffiti you know what the author is talking about. This concept is justified by the author explaining how resistance has been tackled unfairly in the past.

The main assumptions underlying the authors thinking: It could be argued that the author focuses too much on the positive side of graffiti and takes for granted that there are many negative issues.

If we take this line of reasoning seriously, the implications; If we take the authors line of reasoning seriously we will believe that graffiti is positive as he believes it creates community and allows troubled youth to create new and better environments instead of getting in to crime and gangs. This could be good as it puts a new perspective on graffiti and it could be taken in to consideration when tackling graffiti to create new solutions. However if people take it too seriously they could decide that graffiti is not a problem as it is helping these minority groups feel part of a community and stop trying to tackle the problem eventually leading to the situation getting out of hand.

If we fail to take the authors line of reasoning seriously, the implications: People will tackle graffiti as it has always been dealt with and not move on to better solutions by taking these explanations of how and why in to consideration.

The main points of view presented in this article: The author believes that people do not really understand what resistance is so cannot tackle it in the right way. He takes a more fair and un-biased approach creating a balance of ideas. The author presents the idea that graffiti for the young people who do it is simply a form of growing up, a way of gaining a feeling belonging and status just like any other youngster would do within a club or organisation. It's a way of life and a way of expressing there views that would other wise be ignored; they just want to be heard. Throughout the article many other peoples points of view are featured so it is fair to say that the author is not being biased.

The Design council, (1979) Design Against Vandalism

The main purpose of this book is to describe some of the measures that local authorities, manufacturers and architects can take to tackle vandalism.

The key question that the author is addressing: What has been done in the past to tackle vandalism, what has worked, what has not and how can we learn from this?

The most important information in this book is the mention and attention payed to schemes that have been done in the past to tackle vandalism.

The key primary and secondary sources used are: There are numerous authors through out the book, some who have had hand on experiences of tackling vandalism as part of a scheme and some who draw information from other peoples experiences, providing a mixture of primary and secondary sources. There is a case study which looks at one scheme in particular in a lot of detail.

The main inferences/ conclusions in this book: Vandalism can be solved but it needs to be tackled in the right way for the area that they are dealing with. They come to the conclusion that vandalism is "one expression of the frustrations and disappointments of a community." This helps us understand why they come to the conclusions of how to tackle it such as management, community groups, feedback, scale and surveillance.

The key concepts we need to understand in this book: You have to understand why people vandalise and what types of vandalism there is. They provide this information at the start of the book so that you can then go on to understand how to deal with vandalism and why certain ways work or fail.

The main assumptions underlying the authors thinking: The authors in the book don't really assume or take any information for granted as they cover every aspect with great detail. Each scheme is drawn upon numerous times and examples are always given to back up points of how actions work or do not work.

If we take this line of reasoning seriously the implications are: If people take what is said in the book seriously then they will learn a tremendous amount of how to tackle vandalism in the correct way for different situations and would hopefully be able to put this knowledge in to practice.

If we fail to take the authors line of reasoning seriously, the implications are: The same problems to do with vandalism will keep occurring as they won't have learnt from past experiences and facts.

The main points of view presented in this book are: Vandalism occurs more often to public property rather than to private property as it is seen to not belong to anyone and one person themselves will not have to deal with the damage. Vandals are less likely to be caught if they do damage to public property as surveillance is not as high. Not all vandalism is purposely done, bad design can create accidental damage and general wear and tare can be seen as vandalism.