Graffiti remains one of the topics, which attracts attention of political sociologists and other researchers in various discipline. In essence, graffiti has existed for many years, but researchers and political sociologists have paid less attention in terms of examining the roles and functions of graffiti as a form of political participation and political contentious ,despite it conveying and eliciting political messages. The fact that researchers and political sociologies have paid less attention on the topic of graffiti makes it illegitimate and unlawful in repressive regimes. In other words, the government persecutes, charges, and convicts individuals who employ graffiti as a form of political participation and discourse because it translates to a criminal offense in many countries.
Political graffiti is a multifaceted term that has different contextual meanings, but it is important to define the word graffiti before defining the term political graffiti. Graffiti is derived from an Italian word “sgraffiato,” that means cutting a stone or scratching- it encompasses drawings, words, artistic work, and pictures, which have been painted, drawn, and scribbled on the surface, purposely for the members of the public to visualize, and perhaps convey intended information to the relevant bodies (Waldner & Dobratz 378). In this case, political graffiti can be defined as a form of political participation that contains values, opinions, and ideologies constructed to influence public opinion, institutionalized policy, government operations, and government’s decision-making and implementation process. In other words, political graffiti is an effective form of expression that aims to talk, articulate, and convey views, values, discourse, and ideologies, which opposes institutionalized norms. In most cases, graffitists use drawings, words, and defaced artistic work to criticize the government, institutionalized institutions, and present opposing information against repressive regimes in the world. This asserts that political graffiti is an internal mechanism that intends to push and attain certain agendas by disrupting capitalist’s ideologies, institutionalized norms, and authority in the world. Unlike social and civil movements, political graffiti predisposes a milder form of demonstration and protest as graffitists use walls and vessels of the means of transport (bus) to pass, disseminate, and propagate their information (Jessie 85). Based on this assertion, political graffiti can be defined as a political behavior, and art of resistance, and a form of political participation that uses values, discourse, opinion, and principles to influence public opinion, government decision-making process, and policy.
Summary of the article
In the analysis, the authors articulate that street art remains one of the sub-genres of graffiti writing that has existed since 1965. Mural art has prevailed in various regions in the world including Los Angles, Gaza, Brazil, Atlanta, and Argentine. However, “Plaza Deyo Mayo,” remains one of the fascinating and historical mural art located in Aries Argentina that depicts a public protest of women who demonstrated against the disappearance of their children during the “Dirty War” in the region (David 30). The authors predispose that hierarchy exists in the genre of graffiti because the genre of street art is valued and accorded high profile than the genre of graffiti writing; an aspect that is evident in Atlanta.
Waldner and Betty argue that graffiti has three main functions. First, graffiti provides individuals with a favorable platform to discuss, explore, and articulate controversial issues. Second, graffiti provides marginalized communities and persons a platform to air their social discord and criticize the authorities. Third, graffiti focus on sensitive issues, which have been ignored by the media in a country. In essence, the article reveals that politically themed graffiti acts a form of political participation that highlights current discourse and previous grievances affecting the community with the intention to restore harmony and initiative revolutionary and desirable change (Joe 56). Waldner and Betty urge political sociologists to further research on this subject and enhance the body of knowledge in political graffiti.
Question two: The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo as a social movement
Historically, The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo remains one of the social and human rights movements, which has left legacy in the world. As a social movement, the organization has worked tirelessly to fight for the rights of women and children in the contemporary society. Like any other social movement, the organization is premised on severally concepts namely: solidarity, moral regeneration, self-management, and shared responsibility and revolutionary change.
Solidarity remains an indispensible component in The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo organization because it ensures that members work in unison to achieve common goal and safeguard rights of women and children in the society. The women in the social movement realized that political practices and modalities remained ineffective in creating desirable change; an idea that compelled them embrace solidarity as the pillar upon which the organization’s mission and values are grounded on (Fernando 450). In other words, their movement capitalizes of ties and bonds among its members to achieve the organizational goals and objectives. the founders of the movement and its current members have maintained their stand in fighting for impunity, oppression and sufferance of marginalized people in the community, especially women and children. The members of The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo movement have been confronted, injured, beaten, and some killed by the Argentine government to silence and jeopardize their efforts in seeking justice. However, the members have maintained their solidarity, cooperation, and spirit of resilience in seeking justice and safeguard rights of women and children in the society. Based on this assertion, it is evident that the movement has embraced the concept of solidarity to articulate, address, and fight rights of women and children in the modern society.
The social movement embraces the concept of moral regeneration that focuses on the relationship between the society and humans that is grounded on trust, equality, and protection of human dignity and respect (Guzman 234). Unlike other movements, The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo movement did not use institutionalized frameworks to address and articulate challenges facing the women fraternity and other marginalized groups, but instead embraced traditional models and mechanism in their operations. In essence, this movement held the view that institutionalized frameworks were ineffective in safeguarding rights of women and children as they employed abstract political vision modalities, which were ineffective. This movement aims to restore and safeguard human dignity and rights, built cordial relationship with the authorities, and inculcate desirable behaviors and character aimed to create an oppressive free society. During the “Dirty War”, in Argentina, many children and mothers were kidnapped tortured, and killed; an idea that affirms moral degradation in the society. Based on this fact, the movement has embraced the concept of moral regeneration aimed restore human dignity and respect, inculcate desirable behavior and character, and create an oppressive free society; against women, children, and other marginalized groups.
The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo as a social movement embraces the concept of self-management. In essence, this concept is attributed to the fact that the mothers’ mutuality, solidarity, and resilience exhibit a new political model that promotes equality and initiates realization of desirable change (Marjorie & Franzen 431). Although the movements did not adapt a structured form of governance, the members worked towards achieving the movements’ agenda, as they understood their roles and function implicitly. The members of The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo social movement did not wait for the other humanitarian organizations to initiate the movement’s agenda and mission in seeking justice, safeguarding human rights, and prevent oppression of marginalized groups, but rather acted intrinsically. This means that the members had the intrinsic drive and inner calling to safeguard rights of women, children, and other marginalized groups by embracing self-management concept. For instance, whenever the movement planned for a demonstration, the members voluntarily supported the idea and conducted the activity without pressure from the movement leaders. In essence, the movement held the principle that each member is a leader on his or her own capacity. Based on this assertion, the movement embraced the concept of self-management in its operations.
The concept of shared responsibility is envisioned in the movement’s operations. Its members had suffered psychologically, emotionally, and physically for losing their loved ones during the Dirty War in Argentina, but they abandoned their individual interests to achieve a common goals and objectives namely; safeguard rights of women, children, and other marginalized groups and seek justice. These goals and objectives were premised on the concept of shared responsibility that promotes cooperation, solidarity, and collectivism among the members. This means that the social movement did not focus on individualized interests, but aimed to resolve challenges, which affected the women fraternity.
Social movements are considered forms of political participation as they aim to revolutionary change, and The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo is no exemption. According to Sarah Ruddick (2005), she refers to this social movement as a women’s politics of resistance because the mothers deliberately opposed and revoked their cultural ideologies and symbolism of femininity to criticize and oppose repressive regimes (Fernando 320). Their main aim was to promote equality, solidarity and fight for political systems, which marginalized and deprived women their rights as responsible members of the society. The mothers proclaimed that they were ready to die while fighting for their rights as women and responsible member of the society. Based on these assertions, the social movement embraced the concepts of solidarity, self-management, and shared responsibility, moral regeneration, and revolutionalized change.
Madres of Plaza de Mayo remains one of the active social movements championed by women who seek justice and apology from the Argentinean government concerning the disappearance, torture, and murder of their children during the dirty war in the country. Members of the Madres of Plaza de Mayo social movement have shown their solidarity and commitment by staging public demonstration since 1976 until today. When designing the mural of Madres of Plaza de Mayo, I would replace the graffiti on Betty and Waldner in the article with several aspects, which would enhance the mural. First, I would include a white scarf that would symbolize the names of the children who disappeared during the Dirty war. The white scarf not only symbolizes the names of the children who disappeared, but also represents solidarity and commitment of the mothers to achieve the movement’s goals in seeking justice and apology from the government. Second, I would design banners, which would convey the names and faces of children who disappeared in the war.
These banners would communicate to the public and air concerns of the movements to the authority. The banners would employ the concept of moral regeneration that would inform the public the need to restore human dignity, respect, and create an oppressive free society. All members of the movement would be required to carry these banners, photographs and weigh white scarfs voluntarily; an idea that conveys the portrays the concept of self-management. In the same breath, I would include faded photographs of children and victims who disappeared during the dirty war. Third, I would include graffiti of books, magazines, and other literary works, which would symbolize the space and platform where members of the movement would convey their stories and grievances concerning the disappearance of their beloved children. This move would enable the members propagate common goals and objectives of the movement thus embracing the concept of shared responsibility. Although the books and other literacy works would be convey different experiences, but it would inculcate the concept of shared responsibility that aim to achieve common goals, objectives, and vision of the movement. Books, magazines, and other literary work would show successful continuation, growth, and development of the movement towards realizing its goal and obligation in creating social change. In other words, the movement would continue to fight for the rights of women and marginalized groups in the society.
Question Four: Dividing the mural
I would not divide the mural as suggested by the Argentinean government because it would render the mural ineffective in conveying the information. First, the mural would not convey and predispose the concept of solidarity that ensures the participants work towards achieving the movement goals. In essence, it would show two organizations, which have different goals and objectives. Second, the mural would be rendered ineffective in conveying and articulating the grievances and problems raised by the participants. The Madres Plaza de Mayo is a social movement that aims to create social change and fight for rights of women and children thus propel feminist movement. Members of the public would not be able to interpret the information in the mural when it is divided. Based on this assertion, the mural should not be divided to enhance its effectiveness, interpretation, and clarity.
Question Five: Positives and negatives of designing the mural by the government
Designing the mural would have the following positive outcomes. First, the mural would act a form of communication where the women and other marginalized groups would be able to convey, articulate, and address their concerns to the relevant authority. In this case, the mural creates a platform for the women to seek justice from the government. Second, designing the mural shows that government supports the use graffiti and mural as a form of political participation. In other repressive regimes, use of graffiti and mural is considered a criminal offense that is punishable by the law. Third, the mural would articulate and address political issues, which have been ignored by the media. In this context, the movement seeks justice from the government on the disappearance of children; an issue that the media refrains from discussing because it is sensitive (Fernando 390). On the other hand, designing the mural has several negative outcomes namely; it promotes culture of irresponsiveness and impunity in the society, contributes in environmental pollution, and leads to political instability. In certain instances, murals inculcate culture of impunity especially when they fall in bad hands. In other words, individuals can use murals to elicit conflicts among communities and create tension in the society. Although designing a mural by the government plays an integral role in disseminating information, the government should regulate its usage.
Question Six: Theoretical framework in analyzing The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo
It remains a major sociology theory that studies the emergence of social movements. The theory articulates that members of a social movement should acquire resources and use the acquired resources to mobilize individuals towards achieving the movement’s objectives and goals. Resource mobilization theory affirm that a dynamic and active social movement should form alliance with people in power, focus on attracting the attention of the media, mobilize people, acquire resources, and refine its organizational structure. In this case, the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo social movement has existed for many years, but it has published books, magazines, and other literary work to generate money and resources for the movement. In other instances, members of the movement have formed cordial relationship with government officially, especially President Nestor Kirchner, to support their agenda and provide the movement with necessary resources. The theory perceives individuals as rational beings who weight the benefits and risks associated with the movement. In other words, individuals’ decision to participate in the movement depends on the outcome of cost/benefit analysis (McCarthy 540). In this scenario, participants of the movement participate because they aim to achieve a common and collective goal. In this case, the movement operates based on political struggle where the members aim to create desirable and sustainable change in the society. The movement seeks justice for children who disappeared during the Dirty War in Argentina.
Pluralist/ Collective behavior Theory
Robert Park is accredited for coining the term collective behavior that means social process that emerge spontaneous and oppose institutionalized norms. In essence, collective behavior may presume different forms, but it disrupts social order and social structure. The theory articulates that collective behavior elicits violence and is influenced by group dynamics that compel people to commit inhumane actions. According to Blumer, collective behavior is grounded on forces, but the actor is active. In other words, the force cannot evoke any collective behavior unless acted upon through the actor’s thinking process. In this case, the members of The Mothers Plaza de Mayo movement took the initiative to fights for rights of women and children because they had an intrinsic force and drive, which compelled them. The members held the view that they had to pull their resources together to form a social movement that would spearhead their agendas, goals, and objectives. In other words, collective behavior(through this social movement) could not have been attained if the members had not thought about the inhumane acts done on their children and women during the Dirty War. Over the years, the movement has recorded an increase in its membership and received support from other social movements because other people have interpreted the movement’s actions as being desirable in the contemporary society.
Based on the collective theory, the actor comprehends and interprets actions of other members and acts based on the interpretation of the act in question. This predisposition many mean that the members of the social movement were not compelled by their biological, physiological, and social economic factors to participate in the movement’s activities, but by internalizing and interpreting acts of others. For instance, the members carry banners and photographs during their demonstrations to imply their determination to safeguard rights of children and women and other marginalized groups. Based on this assertion, The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo is a social movement that can be analyzed through pluralist and collective behavior theory that influences actors’ thinking and fuel collectivism among the members.
Question Seven: reflections and comments
It has been a tiresome activity to undertake this project, but I have learnt many important concepts, which have broadened my understanding of the term graffiti. In this project, I have learnt that graffiti plays an integral role in the development of the disciplines of sociology, criminology, and political science. Political sociologists and researchers should examine the roles and functions of political graffiti as it conveys political message. Graffiti is a milder form of political participation that allows marginalized people and social groups air their concerns and create a platform for individuals. I have realized that other countries regard graffiti as a criminal offense whereas other nations value, encourage, and recognize it as a profession (this has been my interesting aspect about graffiti). Researchers should conduct others researchers to examine other variables and constructs, which influence political graffiti; an idea that would enhance body of knowledge in this area.
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