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The Social Semiotics of Tattoos


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Table of Contents

Introduction 1: Tattoos and Tattooing in an Era of Liquid Modernity 2. The Art and Artist Behind Your Tattoo 3. Tattoo Artists as Artists 4. Permanence as Rebellion: Skin and Self 5. Of Cultural Change and Gendered Bodies 6. Tattoos as Artistic and Emotional Signifiers Conclusions Bibliography Methodological Appendix Index

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A multimodal study of tattoos and tattooing based on participant-observation and interviews, this book examines the meaning-making that occurs in the visual, written, spoken, and other dimensional elements inherent in this practice.

About the Author

Chris William Martin is Professor of Social Sciences at Algonquin College, Canada.


Well written and very engaging ... A very strong ethnographic text which fuses together social semiotics and ethnography in a very accessible form. * LINGUIST *
I thought I knew everything about the semiotics of tattoos, given that I have been teaching the discipline for over four decades. But this book has opened my eyes to new ways of grasping the meanings of tattoos in the world today. While it takes a historical foray into the meanings of tattoos, the book projects us into the current system of coding that tattoos evoke. It is a brilliant and refreshing new treatment of a topic that I thought had been laid to rest. * Marcel Danesi, Professor of Semiotics and Anthropology, University of Toronto, Canada *
Chris William Martin's new book, The Social Semiotics of Tattoos: Skin and Self, is a welcome new addition to the literature on tattooing. After almost 30 years worth of scholarship on the subject, much of which has been focused on deviance (or the shift away from it), the time is right for a new analysis of tattooing as an art and profession, within a context of rapid cultural change. The Social Semiotics of Tattoos is a must for anyone interested in tattoos, bodies, or art. * Margo DeMello, Adjunct Professor of Anthrozoology, Canisius College, USA *
As a tattooed sociologist and a tattoo enthusiast, I found this book to be highly engaging from a number of different perspectives. In addition to its specific contribution to tattoo scholarship, the work also contributes to theory, specifically to social semiotics, and methodology, specifically to ethnographic research. * Deborah Davidson, Associate Professor of Sociology, York University, Canada and author of The Tattoo Project: Commemorative Tattoos, Visual Culture, and the Digital Archive *
Chris Martin has written an absorbing study on the sociological and semiotic facets of tattooing. This book is based not only on his semiotic training and scholarship but also on the author's own immersion and fieldwork within the tattooing and body art sub-culture. He makes a persuasive case for tattoos as anchors of meaning and identity construction in a dizzying and mercurial Liquid Modern world. He does so with great passion but roots this in close and critical reading of diverse examples. This book will help you appreciate the profundity of both the art and craft of tattooing. As someone who has overlooked tattoos as semiotic entity, his book has opened my eyes to the power of the ink! * Chris Arning, Founder-Director, Creative Semiotics, UK *

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