Yael Berda

Urban Graffiti and Policymaking
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Department of Sociology

In the first quantitative study of anti-graffiti law enforcement, Berda asserts that focusing on police “stop and frisk” practices can offer insights into municipal administrative discretion and selective enforcement, showing divergent influences on law enforcement from those claimed by the New York City government, which maintains that the structure of New York law enforcement of graffiti is based on “zero tolerance” policing and the broken windows theory. Using Poisson regression and GIS maps of graffiti enforcement as well as demographic and real estate development parameters, Berda tests a battery of hypotheses regarding the effects of general law enforcement patterns, gentrification of neighborhoods through changes in population characteristics, and gentrification instigated by corporate capital investment in real estate. These findings show an uneven distribution of policing resources in the public space, demonstrating the influence that corporate capital has on patterns of policing in the urban environment and revealing administrative priorities. These trends are juxtaposed by the proliferation of the consumption of graffiti as an art form, which is measured by the rise in high-end art books that focus on graffiti.