Construction site graffiti: discourse analysis as a window into construction site culture

Rawlinson, Fred and Farrell, Peter (2010) Construction site graffiti: discourse analysis as a window into construction site culture. In: 26th Annual ARCOM Conference, Leeds, UK.

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Graffiti has often been studied by the social sciences as an indicator and manifestation of culture. On construction sites two distinct types of graffiti can be found. Official graffiti, such as the marking of datums in spray paint by engineers, is commonplace, and broken window theory would suggest that this would influence the creation of unofficial graffiti. This paper examined graffiti, both official and unofficial, found on ten construction sites over £15m in value, located in North West England. The sites were toured, including the construction area and welfare provisions. Every graffiti located was recorded by both photograph and fieldnote. The data were then collated and sorted and a taxonomy made of the construction site graffiti. Discourse analysis was applied to the dataset, examining graffiti as a form of social interaction. The need for reference to the context of the graffiti also necessitated comparison of the findings with the contemporary academic understanding of construction site culture, articulated in the literature review. The construction site graffiti was found to be tribal on many levels; from football to subcontractor to trade. It was also celebratory of ownership and personal immortalization, intimating the autonomous nature of construction workers, and it was often vulgar, possibly a result of the dominant masculinity of the sites. Whilst this study only gives voice to those within the workforce who create graffiti, examination of this form of accretion data can still be used to provide insight into the culture. As part of a wider study, these findings will now be used in triangulation with both alternative data sources and alternative methods of analysis in order to create a holistic impression of construction site culture.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: This paper was first published on ARCOM
Keywords: culture, Education, Health and safety, Operatives
Faculty: ARCHIVED Faculty of Science & Technology (until September 2018)
Depositing User: Mohammed Gohrabian
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2016 15:45
Last Modified: 06 Apr 2022 15:21

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