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Title: Sub-cultural paradoxes : women tattoo artists negotiating gender, labour, capital and resistance
Author: Beckett, Emma Clare
ISNI:       0000 0004 7961 1399
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis explores the experiences of women tattoo artists in what is still a male-dominated tattoo industry. The research is situated within the field of subcultural studies, whilst interjecting the fields of gender and labour. Since the 1990s, there has been a significant increase in women entering the industry as professional tattoo artists in the West; my research explores the ways in which women have had to navigate their position within the industry and how they have negotiated the industry's response to an increase in women artists. Using predominantly interviews by email, I talked to 15 women across the US, UK and Australia about their experiences of entering the industry and maintaining their position as a professional woman in an 'alternative' and sub-cultural occupation. Women have previously and extensively been researched as tattoo consumers but not as producers, and therefore my research considers this transition from tattooee to tattooer, exploring how women manage and navigate this shift in status to find space within the industry. I conceptualise the tattoo industry not only as a sub-cultural space but also as a place of employment and labour. Capital, hierarchies and resistance are problematised by considering them through a gendered lens, with women, femininity and femininities at the forefront of my analysis. Femininity is first considered in the analysis as something to be managed and as a potential barrier to success in a male-dominated field. However, femininity is then conceptualised as something utilised positively to enable change within the field. This creates a degree of contradiction and I analyse it by considering the paradox that women are considered to be too feminine for a male-dominated industry whilst at the same time, need or want to be feminine enough to employ distinctive elements of emotional labour associated with dominant versions of femininity. I also consider ways in which women, and other minority groups are attempting to change the industry and resist the hegemonic masculinities of tattoo culture. I show that women artists place importance on the labour they perform, and ask how queer artists are queering certain areas of the industry. I also look, however, at the ambivalence felt by many of the artists surrounding resistance, in relation to both the industry and the mainstream, and the complex dynamic this creates in and amongst artists, the industry and the mainstream.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GT Manners and customs