The aesthetics of anti-social behaviour

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Abstract

From the late-1990s onwards, anti-social behaviour has been high on the political agenda in Britain. This chapter draws on philosophical, criminological and other writings to unpick some influences of aesthetic taste on what is perceived to be anti-social. The meaning and subjectivity of aesthetic judgment are considered, with examples given that may lead to censure and ‘banishment’ – such as wearing a hoodie, writing the wrong sort of graffiti or being visibly homeless. Due to its influence on British policy, Wilson and Kelling’s (1982) ‘broken windows’ is given particular attention and, in line with Ferrell (2006), is seen as an aesthetic theory that makes various assumptions as to what – or who – act as signals of urban decay. The chapter considers whether it is ever right to censure aesthetic taste and simply banish the unsightly. Instead, it is suggested that respect for difference could alternatively be promoted.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnti-Social Behaviour in Britain: Victorian and Contemporary Perspectives
EditorsSarah Pickard
Place of PublicationBasingstoke
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Pages102-111
Number of pages375
ISBN (Print)9781137399304
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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