This study explores the popularization of tattooing in contemporary American culture and the changing social perspectives on the practice of tattooing as a body modification habit. Using the theories of Erving Goffman, I discuss the effects of tattoos on social interactions. Norbert Elias discusses the body and identity as it is historically constructed through domination, and Alexandra Howson, examines the body in latemodern consumer culture. These theories are then used to evaluate the rise in tattooing, the reasons people get tattoos as well as reasons for possible attitude changes and how these changes came about. In attempting to determine these changes I conducted in depth interviews with a number of tattoo artists who have witnessed changes in the field of tattooing over the course of their lifetimes. This research gives evidence that there are far more people getting tattooed today, from a broad social spectrum. In addition we see that though there remain some negative stereotypes towards tattoos, they are becoming more accepted as a practice.


Tierney, Thomas


Sociology and Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2008 William R. Hollinger