Drawn Together: How the Heavily Tattooed Build Social Capital in "Third Places"
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This thesis puts forth an ethnographic, social constructionist account of tattoo shops with the aim of examining how heavily tattooed individuals negotiate positive social meaning in a constructed society. This research assumes that heavily tattooed individuals may be viewed as deviant, which can create problems associated with labeling and stigma. Consequently, these individuals need to develop ways to cope, and can do this by seeking out the company of like-minded people who can help them define away stigma. The central focus of this research will be on the social structures of the space (tattoo shops) and the individuals who visit it - more specifically on their interactions, conversations and experiences. Data were collected from both participant observation and semi-structured open ended interviews with participants. The results from this study demonstrate that tattoo shops are environments that can be interpreted as ‘new third places.’