Tattooed: The Sociogenesis of a Body Art

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Tattoos have become increasingly popular in recent years, especially among young people. While tattooing is used as a symbol of personal identity and social communication, there has been little sociological study of the phenomenon. In Tattooed: The Sociogenesis of a Body Art, tattoo enthusiasts share their stories about their bodies and tattooing experiences. Michael Atkinson shows how enthusiasts negotiate and celebrate their 'difference' as it relates to the social stigma attached to body art - how the act of tattooing is as much a response to the stigma as it is a form of personal expression - and how a generation has appropriated tattooing as its own symbol of inclusiveness. Atkinson further demonstrates how the displaying of tattooed bodies to others - techniques of disclosure, justification, and representation - has become a part of the shared experience.

Cultural sensibilities about tattooing are discussed within historical context and in relation to broader trends in body modification, such as cosmetic surgery, dieting, and piercing. The author also employs research from a number of disciplines, as well as contemporary sociological and postmodern theory to analyse the enduring social significance of body art.

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What People Are Saying

Clinton R. Sanders
'For over a decade and a half, sociologists have been directing serious analytic attention to tattooing and other forms of body modification. The most praiseworthy and insightful discussions are appreciative rather than condemning and based on intimate personal experience with the phenomenon. Michael Atkinson's Tattooed: The Sociogenesis of a Body Art is the latest and best of these works. In its pages, the reader encounters real-life tattoo enthusiasts and gains an understanding of the pride and problems that result from their decisions to wear permanent body decorations.'
Arthur W. Frank
'In Tattooed, Michael Atkinson brings tattooing out of the shadows of deviance. As tattoo enthusiasts - your friends, your children or siblings, your co-workers - use their skin as canvases on which to paint their lives, Atkinson uses their voices to depict an emerging sensibility of body and self, of work and relationships, and of authenticity and affiliation. This is sociology that gives us voices of real people, speaking about what they desire and what they fear. It calls us to listen.'
Craig J. Forsyth
'Any research on tattoos should start with Atkinson's book. This is the most complete book on the subject I have read.'
Karen March
'The more one reads this book, the more one can see that it is not merely a study of tattooing behaviour but a considerate theoretical exploration of social life in the current post-modern world.'
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802085689
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
  • Publication date: 8/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 376
  • Sales rank: 1,054,877
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.01 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Atkinson is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at McMaster University.

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Table of Contents

1 Tattooing as Body Modification 3
2 Tattoo and Sociogenesis 23
3 Academic and Media Representations 51
4 Meeting Tattoo Enthusiasts 69
5 Subculture or Figuration? 91
6 Sociogenesis and Personality Structures 127
7 Life-course Transition and Representation: The Deviance Tightrope 157
8 Shame, Social Control, and Display 207
9 The Body-modification Habits of Canadians 237
References 267
Index 289
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