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Scandinavian Zero Tolerance on Graffiti
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Art History.
2013 (English)In: Kontrolle öffentlicher Räume: Unterstützen Unterdrücken Unterhalten Unterwandern / [ed] Eliza Bertuzzo, Eszter B. Gantner, Heike Oevermann, Jörg Niewöhner, Münster: LIT Verlag, 2013, 1, 102-117 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

During the mid-nineties a new word reached the Scandinavian languages – Zero Tolerance, or translated into Swedish "Nolltolerans". Inspired by New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani – and to some extent the so called Broken Window theory – politicians in Stockholm, Oslo and Helsinki started combatting contemporary urban graffiti with both new means and a new rhetoric.

The new rhetorical topos was mainly two: First – that graffiti in public space per se meant a disruption of the feeling of safety for the ordinary citizen. Second: that graffiti was a criminal subculture closely linked to drug abuse, violence and theft, and that youngsters interested in graffiti therefore were at risk to become drug addicts and career criminals.

The means included intensified removal of graffiti, stricter legislation, special police squads and parapolice organizations working with intelligence to prosecute suspected graffiti writers.

The first rhetorical topos and these means where in line with the politics of major Giuliani. Yet the Scandinavian interpretation of Zero Tolerance went beyond the New York politics by also criminalizing legal graffiti. It became practically impossible to get permission to paint walls with any kind of images slightly reminding of graffiti. The Zero Tolerance policy also prohibited exhibitions displaying graffiti in premises owned or sponsored by public funding.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Münster: LIT Verlag, 2013, 1. 102-117 p.
, zeithorizonte Perspektiven Europäischer Ethnologie, 12
Keyword [en]
graffiti, zero tolerance, street art, public space
National Category
Research subject
Art History
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-90907ISBN: 978-3-643-11556-0OAI: diva2:628341
Available from: 2013-06-13 Created: 2013-06-13 Last updated: 2013-06-25Bibliographically approved

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