Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts






Latin America, tattoos, perception, societal norms


This thesis explores the practice of tattooing and how it has been affected by the globalization of local practices. Tattooing is an ancient practice that virtually all societies have performed. Today, tattooing is practiced in an infinite number of ways and it is interesting to understand local influences as well as global themes portrayed in modern day tattooing. A study abroad trip from September 2012 to May 2013 in Ecuador gave me the opportunity to study tattooing in the Latin American country. A series of the same interviews in the United States from September 2013 to December 2013 allowed me to gain another perspective on the practice of tattooing. Tattooing in Ecuador is happening in an informal, unregulated manner in which there are professional tattoo shops and also informal and often unhygienic shops that have popped up around the country. Due to the lack of regulations and the conservative catholic pressures of the mainstream Ecuadorian society, tattooing has been deemed out of the norm. Furthermore, those that tattoo have replicated the same social structure of the mainstream society, which has caused a type of self-imposed norm in the tattoo world. Meanwhile, in the United States tattooing is an accessible way to purposefully assert one’s uniqueness. People in the United States are constantly pushing the boundaries of tattooing while at the same time struggling to conform to Corporate-America standards. Many Americans tattoo in easily covered places to assure that their tattoos do not prevent them for being hired.