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Abstract

In Britain, we have been told by politicians that anti-social behaviour (ASB) is a menace that has to be tackled. In this review article, evidence is provided that ASB is not a problem that affects us all; rather, concerns are highest within urban areas, particularly in certain deprived neighbourhoods and town and city centres. Possible explanations for this spatial concentration of concern are explored, for instance, relating to the effectiveness of informal social control mechanisms and people's differing behavioural expectations for public spaces. It is contended that some activity may be misidentified as ASB because it does not fit the cultural and social norms of the majority. It is also argued that aesthetics plays a part in determining behavioural acceptability and that, particularly in urban centres, spaces can be cleansed of difference to cater for the tastes of a ‘consuming majority’.