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Marking walls and borders

Nicole Trujillo-Pagan (Department of Sociology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 22 November 2019

Issue publication date: 22 November 2019




The purpose of this paper is to reconceptualize space as a field of struggles between multiple agents.


The author draws from field theory and uses visual methods to explain how graffiti shapes how neighborhoods are branded and aligned with creative city redevelopment plans.


By exploring space/place as field, the author moves beyond the structure/culture dichotomy to explain both place making and displacement.

Research limitations/implications

The findings suggest gentrification is not an abstract force, but rather the outcome of struggles to define place and attract new, consuming populations to the neighborhood.


Sociologists share a long and rich tradition of associating opportunity with space that traces back to W.E.B. DuBois’ research on the seventh ward in The Philadelphia Negro (1899). More recently, sociologists have reified space and have attempted to distinguish place as an outcome of human experience. How space and place is reproduced remains unclear. This paper contributes toward the understanding of space, place-making and displacement.



This research was supported by The Humanities Center at Wayne State. The author thanks her colleagues who provided insight and expertise that greatly assisted the research, although they may not agree with all of the interpretations and conclusions of this paper.


Trujillo-Pagan, N. (2019), "Marking walls and borders", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 39 No. 11/12, pp. 975-994.



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