Affective power of vandalism: youth vandal practices within the concept of affective labor




vandalism, youth, affective labor, youth strategies, city, youth communities


The purpose of the article is an adaptation of the affective labor concept as a method for analyzing vandalism among young people. The article examines youth vandalism as a form of affective labor and identifies two types of effects. The first type deals with the experiences of the vandals themselves which cause the new subjectivity and collectivity; the second type refers to the effects experienced by the users of vandal-altered spaces: they begin to feel differently because the damage can seriously change the status, value, user qualities of the urban environment and the emotions it induces on inhabitants.

The paper analyzes youth vandalism as a strategy which not only transforms the urban space visually (physically) but also consciously constructs the affects transforming the subjectivity of young people, social positions and community forms of both the vandals themselves and the users of the city. This approach, reflecting the strategic nature of the young people’s vandal activity, shows that vandal practice should be understood as the practice of space occupation, its appropriation, its de- and reconstruction and should be based on social topology and general ideas of actor-network theory. The socio-philosophical conclusions in the paper are illustrated by the results of interviews involving 17 participants from 7 youth communities conducted in summer and autumn 2017 in Yekaterinburg. The photographs of the damaged urban spaces in various city districts were also taken; the data were mapped, and the photo database was marked according to geographical location and types of damaged buildings. This helped to draw certain conclusions about the youth vandalism phenomenon. The article outlines the prospects for the use of the proposed methodology in the analysis of vandal damage and in urban vandalism prevention activities.

Acknowledgement. The research is funded by the Russian Science Foundation (project no. 17-18-01278).

Author Biography

Irina A. Simonova, Ural State Pedagogical University

  • Ural State Pedagogical University, Yekaterinburg, Russia
    • Cand. Sci. (Philos.), Associate Professor