“Nations”, identity expression, and symbolic power: the complex practice of graffiti-writing among Chicago working­class youth “gangs”

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Heriford, Will
ethnography; power; graffiti; identity; symbolic
thesis / dissertation description
This thesis utilizes both original ethnographic research as well as existing academic theory to provide an analysis of graffiti as it is historically practiced with Chicago working-class youth "gang" culture. This thesis demonstrates that graffiti written with this context is more complex than typically portrayed by mainstream media and academia, and as a practice serves to articulate and inscribe identities, provide a platform to gain and lose status, and is a way to make symbolic boundaries and demarcations "real". Furthermore, this Thesis demonstrates that through the use of the internet, these instances of graffiti can be projected and a new context created that in some ways allows the "street codes" related to the graffiti to be suspended and in some instances even subverted.