“Pleasure stolen from the poor”: community discourse on the ‘theft’ of a Banksy

Hansen, Susan ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4679-9116 (2016) “Pleasure stolen from the poor”: community discourse on the ‘theft’ of a Banksy. Crime, Media, Culture, 12 (3) . pp. 289-307. ISSN 1741-6590 [Article] (doi:10.1177/1741659015612880)

PDF - Final accepted version (with author's formatting)
Download (738kB) | Preview


The removal of street art from community walls for private auction is a morally problematic yet legal action. This paper examines community reactions to the removal of Banksy’s No Ball Games for private auction. 500 unique reader comments on online newspaper articles reporting this controversial event were collected and analysed. An emerging set of urban moral codes was used to position street art as a valuable community asset rather than as an index of crime and social decay. An older discourse depicted No Ball Games as unlawful graffiti that was rightfully removed. Here, the operations of ‘the police’ (Rancière, 1999) in the distribution of the sensible are evident in the assertions that validate and depoliticize the removal of No Ball Games. This repertoire was used to attribute responsibility for the work’s removal to deterministic external forces, while reducing the accountability attributable to those responsible for the removal of the work. A contrasting anti removal repertoire depicted street art as a gift to the community, and its removal as a form of theft, and a source of harm to the community. The pro-removal repertoire incorporates and depoliticizes elements of the anti-removal repertoire, by acknowledging the moral wrong of the removal, but yielding to the legal rights of the wall owners to sell the work; and by recognizing the status of street art as valuable, but asserting that the proper place for art is a museum. The anti-removal repertoire counters elements of the pro-removal repertoire, by acknowledging the illegality of street art, but containing this to the initial act of making unsanctioned marks on a wall, after which point the work becomes the property of the community it is located within. This analysis reveals an emergent set of urban moral codes that positions a currently legal action as a form of criminal activity.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology > Forensic Psychology Research Group
Item ID: 18272
Notes on copyright: Hansen S. “Pleasure stolen from the poor”: Community discourse on the ‘theft’ of a Banksy. Crime, Media, Culture. 2016;12(3):289-307. Copyright © The Author(s) 2015. DOI: 10.1177/1741659015612880
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Susan Hansen
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2015 10:44
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2022 10:00
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/18272

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.