Tattoo, Tat't'aow, Tattow, Tatoo, Tatto, Tatu, Ta Tau (Polynesian)
Term Paper – Intro to Sociology
This paper examines tattooing as a social phenomenon. Body modification is defined as the (semi)permanent, deliberate alteration of the human body and embraces procedures such as tattooing and body piercing (Featherstone, 1999). Those practices have a long history and are well known from various cultures all over the world. Although the appearance of tattoos and body piercings varied around the world, they always possessed meaning for that particular culture. Piercings were often used in initiation rites, assigning the person who had the piercing to a certain social or age group. Tattoos were utilized to signal religious affiliations, or social status. In Europe, the practice of tattooing was big among sailors and other working class members from the beginning of the 20th century onwards (Sanders, 1989). Later on, tattoos assigned affiliations to certain groups, including bikers and inmates (DeMello, 1993, 1995). In the 1980s the punk and the gay movement picked up body modification, mainly as a protest against the conservative middle class norms of society (Pitts, 2003). Body modifications have remained an active part of several subcultures and have extended to many different social classes over the last 20 years. Subculture is defined as a segment of society that shares a distinctive pattern of customs, rules, and traditions that differ from the patter of a larger society. (Schaefer 2014:44) The main reason for this is commercialism that has spread by the media and other tattoo bearers showing that it is not just for the deviant. Deviance is defined as behavior that violates the standards of conductor expectations of a group or society (Schaefer 2014:106) any longer. Tattoos can now be looked at as a fashion accessory in some ways. But some would say that there is a deeper physiological meaning to their tattoos and they do not even care if others see them....
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