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Keeping it clean: graffiti and the commodification of moral panic
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Culture and Aesthetics.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8448-3588
2015 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Whereas subcultures such as punk, metal, hip-hop, skate, goth and emo have all been the target of moral panics in the past, the conditions that sparked these moral panics have since become banal and normalized, in line with Cohen’s (1972) claim that moral panics per definition tend to be short-lived. The moral panic about subcultural graffiti in Sweden, however, has proved remarkably consistent. Three decades after its emergence in Scandinavia politicians, news editors, transit company representatives, and police officers still point to the immediate danger of graffiti writing, directly linking it to other established folk devils such as drug users, hell-bent vandals, gangs, and professional criminals (Kimvall 2012). Whereas the previous subcultural research has at length discussed the commercial exploitation of the subcultural, the authors point to the increasing commercial exploitation of the moral panic around graffiti, what Lemert (1952) called “deviance exploitation”, as the foundation for the endurance of the moral panic. Drawing from an extensive and on-going research on governmental attempts to combat illegal graffiti in Sweden, this paper deals with graffiti as mal placé both in relation to urban space and to romanticized conceptions of youth resistance, rendering it not only a suitable enemy for moral entrepreneurs but also a steady cash cow for surveillance firms and graffiti removal firms.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
subculture, subcultural theory, moral panic, commodification, graffiti, zero tolerance
National Category
Art History
Research subject
Art History; Sociology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-126555OAI: diva2:901212
Lisbon Street Art & Urban Creativity International Seminar, 2,3 and 4 of July 2015
Available from: 2016-02-07 Created: 2016-02-07 Last updated: 2016-02-08Bibliographically approved

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ReferencesLink to record
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