Arizona State University Tattooing and Culture Sociology Essay

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Tattooing and Culture

STEP 1: Search online for a short documentary video that discusses tattooing as a part of culture. To focus your search, try including key terms like “culture” or “society” or “appropriation.” Look for a video that seems to making an argument about what tattoos mean in a present-day cultural context. Take notes and listen carefully for the main questions and issues that are being explored. For example, you could watch “Can Tattoos be Taboo?” found here:

STEP 2: Review the sections from this module about social norms, ethnocentrism, cultural relativism, pop culture, and subculture. Choose at least three concepts from these sections and apply them to the issues and questions raised by the video about tattoos.

For example, how do tattoos violate (or confirm) certain formal or informal norms? What are some possible consequences for these transgressions? How can concepts like cultural relativism and ethnocentrism be applied to certain styles of tattoos? Do you think that tattoos are more subcultural or countercultural? Have cultural views of tattooing changed over time? How so? Why do you think this? These are just some suggestions, and there are of course other useful concepts from the readings that can help you think about tattooing from a sociological perspective.

In addition to addressing the questions and concepts from the video and the reading, be sure to offer your own view on the cultural context of tattooing. What do you think is at stake in this discussion? Who is affected? How?


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