The author interviewed ten hip-hop graffiti writers of various race, class, and gender by audiotape and reviewed them until patterns emerged as themes, mainly issues concerning public space and community. She continued her relationship with the participants over a five-year period to observe the diversity and transformation of individuals within graffiti culture.
The study begins with a literature review from Web resources, books, and subculture magazines on graffiti in order to define The Structure of Traditional Hip-Hop Graffiti Culture. This chapter lays the basic foundation familiar to all writers and points to the main issues in order to analyze how individual writers conform to or deviate from the standard subculture. The author addresses the complex issues which are layered behind a residue of illegally painted signatures, characters, and text. There is a need for the voices of young people to be heard, especially those who have found artistic integrity, and awareness of civic and political issues on their own terms. Youth are in an ongoing struggle to construct personal identities and communities that they want to live in. Hip-hop graffiti is only one example where they have created a space, within a peer-run environment, to respect and encourage their political powers, ideas, and skills. The book asks whether an understanding of how adolescents learn outside of school can generate alternative sites for curriculum theorizing.