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Author Austin, Joe Alan
Title Taking the train: Youth culture, urban crisis and the "graffiti problem" in New York City, 1970-1990
book jacket
Descript 361 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 57-09, Section: A, page: 3997
Adviser: George Lipsitz
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Minnesota, 1996
This dissertation argues that there are dialogical, multi-layered connections between the formation and development of the writing ("graffiti") culture and the post-industrial/global transformation of urban areas, like New York City, during the last twenty-five years. "Graffiti" writing developed in New York City during the late 1960s among marginalized youths who sensed the narrowing possibilities for social acceptance and mobility in a post-industrial urban economy. These youths created a new mode of social protest that both mimicked and mocked elite status conventions by transforming their street names and signatures into spectacular (illegal) murals on the subways. Valuing the skill, creativity, hard work, dedication, and risk-taking necessary to create the "masterpieces" on the trains, these writers formed an alternative, semi-autonomous cultural hierarchy which collectively understood itself to be engaged in a grass-roots urban renewal/city beautification project
During the early 1970s, as New York City's position as a world city began to slide, a loose alliance struggled to represent writing as a juvenile crime wave and initiated a "war on graffiti". This first "war" ended in a humiliating defeat for the alliance just prior to the New York City financial crisis of 1974. A second "war on graffiti," initiated after 1979 with powerful support from the city's economic elite, re-cast writing as a malignant and lingering symbol of the city's social and infrastructural decay during the 1970s. Through enormous public expenditures, all writing was removed from the subway system in 1989
In response to the second "war" on the trains, most writers turned to "bombing" public walls, while the mural-like forms that had developed earlier declined and moved "underground" to less visible spaces. In the late 1980s, writers began to produce magazines and videos to circulate their works, which opened new channels of influence in an international network of "graf scenes," which included every major city of the United States and most of the major cities of western Europe, Scandinavia, and Australia
School code: 0130
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 57-09A
Subject American Studies
History, United States
Mass Communications
Alt Author University of Minnesota
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