Reframing graffiti writing as a community practice: sites of youth learning and social engagement

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Baird, Ronald ORCID: 0000-0002-8628-2939 (2019) Reframing graffiti writing as a community practice: sites of youth learning and social engagement. PhD thesis, University of Melbourne.


This study investigates how graffiti writing is learnt and how graffiti writers experience this learning. Drawing on the concept of communities of practice, it frames graffiti as a skillful and aesthetic practice that is learned in a communally- situated context. This shifts the focus from graffiti as a stigmatised practice to a demonstration of the expert knowledge that young men develop over time through their engagement with a learning community. The research consisted of semi-structured interviews and observations of graffiti practice with eleven male graffiti writers. The thesis argues that graffiti writing involves a wide range of cognitive, social, emotional and bodily skills. These skills coalesce at the site of practice where they in turn inform the learning of novice graffiti writers. This thesis shows that the way writers experience the learning of graffiti occurs within a highly masculine space that can serve to exclude women’s participation. By developing an understanding of the lived experiences of male graffiti writers, this research contributes new knowledge about youth cultural practice as a site of learning and production.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Official URL
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1608 Sociology
Historical > FOR Classification > 2002 Cultural Studies
Current > Division/Research > College of Arts and Education
Keywords graffiti; street art; youth; communities of practice; situated learning; observational learning; social learning; embodied learning; online learning; social media; subculture; masculinity; gender
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