The College Student’s Religious Tattoo: Respect, Reverence, Remembrance

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5 Scopus citations


Tattoos are now a generally socially accepted means of expressing one’s thoughts, beliefs, and affiliations. Using two types of data–interviews (N = 11) and survey responses to an open-ended prompt (N = 85)–this article focuses on the meanings, motivations, and rationales that young college student adults have for their self-identified religious tattoos. We found that their responses generally fell into three categories: respect, reverence, and remembrance. Additionally, we divided the respondents’ self-described motivations and descriptions into two subcategories that described the uses those tattoos had for respondents. We discovered that even tattoos that do not appear to be religious to an observer may actually have varying religious meanings and uses for respondents–even for respondents who describe themselves as a-religious or atheists. We also find that the more public the body placement, the more likely the respondent wishes to use the tattoo for evangelical and group affiliation purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-66
Number of pages14
JournalSociological Focus
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020


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