Title

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover: Stereotypes in the Tattoo Industry

Presenter Information

Jessica HodgesFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Psychology and Sociology

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Alexandra Hendley, PhD.

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

Stereotypes can be applied to any group, and in the case of this project, these are stereotypes toward the tattoo culture. Some commonly held stereotypes for these individuals is that they are deviant (Adams 2012, Burgess and Clark 2010), rebellious (Forbes 2001), and unprofessional (Burgess and Clark 2010). It is important to examine this topic because research has shown that many of these stereotypes are simply untrue (Forbes 2001, Hall 2014, Irwin 2003). If there is an increase in research on this topic, then perhaps those with tattoos would not be viewed in such a negative light. For this project, I wanted to attempt to answer two questions. Firstly, are individuals in the industry aware of stereotypes surrounding the culture? Secondly, how are stereotypes about tattoos being combated or reinforced in the shop (by artists and atmosphere)? To research this, I conducted ethnographic observational research at a local tattoo shop in Murray, KY. The participants were the artists and customers in the shop who are affiliated with the tattoo culture. With this research, I attempted to provide more evidence against the stereotypes mentioned above surrounding the tattoo culture. I found that there are stereotypes being refuted and reinforced by the research site—it is not necessarily so easy to say all stereotypes are being contradicted or supported. It seems like the more harmful and negative stereotypes are the ones being refuted, while the others which are less harmful, such as being “edgy,” are being reinforced.

Fall Scholars Week 2018 Event

Psychology: Completed Projects

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Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover: Stereotypes in the Tattoo Industry

Stereotypes can be applied to any group, and in the case of this project, these are stereotypes toward the tattoo culture. Some commonly held stereotypes for these individuals is that they are deviant (Adams 2012, Burgess and Clark 2010), rebellious (Forbes 2001), and unprofessional (Burgess and Clark 2010). It is important to examine this topic because research has shown that many of these stereotypes are simply untrue (Forbes 2001, Hall 2014, Irwin 2003). If there is an increase in research on this topic, then perhaps those with tattoos would not be viewed in such a negative light. For this project, I wanted to attempt to answer two questions. Firstly, are individuals in the industry aware of stereotypes surrounding the culture? Secondly, how are stereotypes about tattoos being combated or reinforced in the shop (by artists and atmosphere)? To research this, I conducted ethnographic observational research at a local tattoo shop in Murray, KY. The participants were the artists and customers in the shop who are affiliated with the tattoo culture. With this research, I attempted to provide more evidence against the stereotypes mentioned above surrounding the tattoo culture. I found that there are stereotypes being refuted and reinforced by the research site—it is not necessarily so easy to say all stereotypes are being contradicted or supported. It seems like the more harmful and negative stereotypes are the ones being refuted, while the others which are less harmful, such as being “edgy,” are being reinforced.