Understanding tattooing from an occupational science perspective

Hannah Kay, Claire Brewis

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    An occupational science perspective was applied to explore engagement in and potential implications of tattooing for individuals, using a qualitative phenomenological approach. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with six participants defined as mainstream tattooees, which includes individuals motivated by aesthetics or self-expression and whose tattoos are placed to enable concealment, thus avoiding stigma. Eight themes were identified including how tattooing was adapted to meet individual needs, its benefits in relation to creating positive emotions, improved body image and connection with others. However, stigma associated with tattooing may restrict engagement. The themes were considered within Wilcock’s (2006 Wilcock, A. A. (2006). An occupational perspective of health (2nd ed.). Thorofare, NJ: Slack.) doing-being-becoming-belonging framework. Doing was adapted to meet individual needs and restricted by external factors. Being involved how personal tattoos were and the emotions experienced. Becoming incorporated a transformation of the body and self through tattoos. Belonging was experienced through connections created by tattoos. The findings support an occupational understanding of tattooing by drawing links between participant experiences and theoretical concepts
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)351-364
    JournalJournal of Occupational Science
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2016


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