In recent years, the phrase ‘anti-social behaviour’ (ASB), as understood in a public order enforcement context, has gained prominence in the United Kingdom, to the extent that it is claimed we now live in an ‘ASBO nation’. In this article, the meaning of ASB is explored as a contested concept. The focus is on urban spaces, where it is argued that understandings of ASB are very much dependent on people’s behavioural expectations for a particular space and time. Moreover, what is regarded as anti-social is also determined by social and cultural norms of aesthetic acceptability. A differential interpretation perspective is suggested, in which the same behaviour can be censured as ASB (or crime), tolerated, or even celebrated. The consequences are discussed.
Gender, Crime and Criminal Justice