The writings on the wall : perspectives on South African bathroom graffiti.
This study explored the content, tone and amount of graffiti produced in South African bathrooms in KwaZulu-Natal. Raw graffiti was collected during 2008 from „institutions of higher education?. One of the primary aims of this study was to investigate if gender identities continue to operate in private, anonymous contexts. Politeness theory is utilized as a theoretical framework to generate hypotheses about the direction of influence gender may exert on graffiti if it continues to operate in private contexts. Inscriptions were written down in books. Thematic analysis was then applied, which led to the generation of content categories in content analysis on which chi-squared statistical procedures were applied. The categories were analysed in terms of amount, dominant content and tone, and were stratified in relation to gender. Ecosystems theory was used in an attempt to more holistically understand our sample within the context in which it was created. This study has found that gender had a significant influence on the amount, content, and tone of the graffiti produced. It was found that males dominantly produced tags and political graffiti content, and were more likely than females to produce neutral and negatively toned graffiti. Females produced significantly more graffiti than males and dominantly produced interpersonal content. We hypothesised that our findings were due to gender roles being internalised and continuing to operate in private contexts, especially in contexts where gender is salient, like a bathroom. We argued that the cognitive representation of an inscriber?s gendered audience influences them to behave in gendertypical ways, and in this behaviour their gender is performed, even in the private, anonymous context of the bathroom.
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