Sneaking around the streets: Prolific graffiti taggers' socialization habits

Document Type

Book Chapter


Nova Science Publishers


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science


School of Psychology and Social Science/Lifespan Resilience Research Group




This chapter was originally published as: Taylor, M. F. (2014). Sneaking around the streets: Prolific graffiti taggers' socialization habits. In Merrick, J., Tenenbaum, A. & Omar, H. (Eds.). School, adolescence and health issues (pp. 73-87). United States: Nova Science Publishers.


Tagging, the unsolicited rendition of a graffiti writer’s street name on someone else’s property, is typically committed by adolescents aged 12-17 years seeking a deviant non-conforming social identity. While graffiti involvement places prolific writers on a trajectory towards more serious criminal offending, little is known about their tagging practices. To address this knowledge shortfall, an examination was conducted of 1,462 graffiti report forms completed by removalists prior to removing graffiti written in an inner city area of Perth, Western Australia over a three month period. Frequency distribution analysis revealed that while 759 individuals collectively wrote 2,729 tags, just 16 prolific taggers accounted for approximately half (n=1,373) of all the tags recorded. Moreover, a tag frequency tally revealed that while some prolifically written tags appeared in isolation, others occurred in conjunction with a particular set of other tags. Finally, by plotting the occurrences of the 16 identified prolifically written tags on square grid plots, the study demonstrates the existence of graffiti hangout hubs. These findings are discussed in relation to the thesis of Reputation Enhancement and the social non-conforming identity seeking aspirations of adolescent graffiti taggers.

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