David C. Lane

Jan 19, 2021

Other End of the Needle

Continuity and Change Among Tattoo Workers

Rutgers University Press 2020

In The Other End of the Needle (Rutgers University Press, 2020), David C. Lane, Ph.D. investigates the intricacies of the tattoo industry. Particularly, Lane found that tattooing is more complex than simply the tattoos that people wear. Using qualitative data and an accessible writing style, Lane explains the complexity of tattoo work as a type of social activity. His central argument is that tattooing is a social world, where people must be socialized, manage a system of stratification, create spaces conducive for labor, develop sets of beliefs and values, struggle to retain control over their tools, and contend with changes that in turn affect their labor. Earlier research has examined tattoos and their meanings.

Yet, Lane notes, prior research has focused almost exclusively on the tattoos—the outcome of an intricate social process—and have ignored the significance of tattoo workers themselves. "Tattooists," as Lane dubs them, make decisions, but they work within a social world that constrains and shapes the outcome of their labor—the tattoo. The goal of this book is to help readers understand the world of tattoo work as an intricate and nuanced form of work. Lane ultimately asks new questions about the social processes occurring prior to the tattoo’s existence.

David C. Lane is currently recruiting participants for his next study on identity management and past trauma experienced by people who have tattoos. The goal of this study is to understand how tattoos are used by people to develop their own identity. If you are interested in participating please go to http://tattoostudyisu.com.   

Michael O. Johnston, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at William Penn University. His most recent study, “The Queen and Her Royal Court: A Content Analysis of Doing Gender at a Tulip Queen Pageant”, was published in Gender Issues Journal. His interests include the sociology of art and culture, sociology of death and dying, and sociology of sex and gender. He is currently working on a research project about obituary writing as an art world. More can be found about Michael O. Johnston, Ph.D. by going to his website, Google Scholar, following him on Twitter @ProfessorJohnst, or emailing him at johnstonmo at wmpenn dot edu.

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Michael O. Johnston, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at William Penn University.

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