Academ-Ink: Stef Shuster, sociology, North Carolina

Stef Shuster, an assistant professor of sociology, discusses his research on trans healthcare, his personal tattoo collection, and what it means to be a tattooed professor in the south.



Dr. Matt Walker, social science professor

Matt Walker is a social science professor in North Carolina who talks about his research on Guatemala as well as his personal tattoo collection in this video series on tattooed professors.

Academ-Ink: Devon Fulford

My new video series “Academ-Ink” presents academic workers with tattoos discussing their lives of balancing their interest in academia, ink, and subcultural fashion, as well as the nitty gritty details of labor in the university. (See call for participants) This video was presented at the International Visual Sociology Association conference in Evry, France, June 25-28, 2018. You can see the Prezi presentation here.

Digital Nomads: Employment in the Online Gig Economy

Screen Shot 2018-06-15 at 10.07.52 PM

My article “Digital Nomads: Employment in the Online Gig Economy,” was published in Glocalism: A Journal of Culture, Politics and Innovation, Issue 2018, Vol. 1. (DOI:10.12893/gjcpi.2018.1.11).

Abstract: In 1997, Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners published their future-looking manifesto Digital Nomad that, decades later, would present as a manifesto for a lifestyle movement. At the time, businesses and the US government were interested in looking at tele-commuting, productivity, and work-family balance. Critiques of a neoliberal economy provide insight into understanding the context of freelance and online, piecemeal employment. This article examines the types of employment that digital nomads engage in, based on in-depth interviews with thirty-eight self-identified digital nomads. The participants mostly originate from wealthy, industrialized nations, and have many class privileges, but are underemployed compared to what their socio-economic status would historically suggest. As most participants are in the Millennial Generation, an overview of the shifting socio-economic status of this age-cohort is examined in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and the European Union – notably their high educational achievements and increasingly precarious employment status. Many of the nomads were working part-time with their own micro-business, with few able to maintain full-time employment. Few have benefits such as healthcare, retirement, unemployment insurance, or family leave. While “freedom” is touted as the benefit of gig-work, by both industry management and digital nomad enthusiasts, this lifestyle marks a shift towards precarious employment – itself not a basis for economic freedom, nor security.

The Academic Minute

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 3.30.30 PMI recorded a segment for The Academic Minute on my research on women and tattoos, which aired on May 18, 2018. This segment was also featured during The Best of Our Knowledge airing as well.

Here is the link to the audio segment.

Or read here for the full text:

Record numbers of Americans are getting tattoos—at least twenty-five percent of the population now has at least one. And for the first time ever, women make-up over 50% of all collectors! My research focuses on this often-overlooked population. “Heavily-tattooed” women, who have large tattoos on “public skin,” and imagery not considered pretty, such as skulls or snakes, often face social sanctions. Women manage their tattoos to a greater extent than men, as being heavily tattooed goes against stereotypical expectations of what it means to be feminine. But the women themselves view their tattoos as something that makes them more beautiful and authentic.

For women tattoo artists, they face discrimination from both employers, and potential clients alike, similar to women in other male dominated professions. From male tattoo artists who refuse to take on women apprentices, to sexual harassment, and derogatory treatment in the workplace, women tattoo artists have had their own “Me Too” moment in their industry. Women artists may face clients who: overlook them as receptionists, do not want tattoos done by a woman, or think that women have a lighter touch with a tattoo machine.

With the sheer numbers of tattooed people in contemporary society, this research provides insight into understand the idea of “tattoo etiquette,” or how the public can most respectfully interact with people regarding their tattoo collections. By re-considering the reasons for questioning another’s body adornments, not touching, and understanding that tattoos are simple one manner of self-expression, observers can work towards lessening the social stigma surrounding women’s tattoo collections.