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From New York to San Francisco, Times Square to the Tenderloin, local police clash with graffiti artists, disorderly young people, radical environmentalists, and the homeless on city streets in an attempt to create a sense of urban order and safety. Pundits talk about "quality of life crime" opponents talk about the "Disneyfication" of America's cities. Drawing on Jeff Ferrell's ongoing field research in a variety of cities, including Denver, San Francisco, New York, Phoenix, and Flagstaff, this lively account of Ferrell's adventures as a participant and researcher inside the worlds of street musicians, homeless punks, militant bicycle activists, high risk "BASE jump" parachustists, skateboarders, outlaw radio operators, and hip hop graffiti artists, explores the contested day-to-day dynamics of public life and public space.
Along the way the book takes on a remarkable range of contemporary public controversies involving these underground groups, documenting the ways in which their on-the-street anarchist politics and cultural self-invention shape resistance to new forms of spacial and legal control, and tracing the roots of this resistance through a subversive past that stretches from the Paris commune of 1871 to the punks of the 1970s. This look at extreme urban culture asks "whose city is it?" and argues that a disorderly urban culture is a better alternative than the Disneyfied city.
JEFF FERRELL is Professor of Criminal Justice at Northern Arizona University. He is the foremost practitioner of ethnographic criminology, a field he pioneered. Ferrell has received awards from the American Criminological Association for his research. His acclaimed and widely-reviewed books include Crimes of Style, Cultural Criminology, and Ethnography at the Edge.