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Reasons behind body art adoption: what motivates young adults to acquire tattoos?

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This paper utilises an interpretivist perspective to identify dominant motivations for tattoo consumption among young adults. Content analysis was deployed on two types of data: student essays and online blogs and websites depicting stories and discussions of casual tattoo adopters. Our results show that motivations manifest through the meanings of both the act of acquiring a tattoo and the design of the tattoo image. We find that motivations to acquire or reject tattoos are anchored in negotiating two types of identities: the public persona (the self as perceived by others) and the private persona (the authentic and real self). The dialectic dichotomy of differentiation-conformity social orientations underscores the complex nature of identity negotiation with several processes in effect: acting differently towards approach vs. avoidance reference groups, adopting counter-fashion stance to reinforce stability of one's identity, expressing separate public and a private identities, and negotiating unique identities using universal pictorial signs. Managerial implications and future research directions are discussed.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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