Each Wednesday, I write a post that is from my dissertation.
Last week, I told you about how industry workers are a source of scrapbook norms. Scrapbook manufacturers are a type of industry worker, but are different in that they represent both the hobby and a specific manufacturer.
Manufacturers are a source of scrapbook norms in two main ways.
First, scrapbook manufacturers work at getting customers to purchase their products by emphasizing their superiority over other products.
For example, Inspired Stories (not its real name) is known for emphasizing their products over their competitors. Their style of scrapbooking is distinct among scrapbooking in an effort to maintain customer loyalty. They further maintain customer loyalty by planting seeds of doubt over the quality of competing products when consultants are encouraged to emphasize the testing that all Inspired Stories products go through.
Second, scrapbook manufacturers make available the products for the themes and subjects that they think are scrapworthy, thereby communicating to scrapbookers what is and is not scrapworthy.
It goes without saying that you can scrapbook whatever you want. But, new scrapbookers in particular are susceptible to focusing on scrapbooking those topics that have embellishments and stickers to go along with it. If a person’s life does not fit into this model, they might feel like scrapbooking isn’t for them. Scrapbooking products emphasize white, heterosexual, English language, and Christian themes. A scrapbooker may be able to find non-English language stickers and papers online and perhaps one or two options in a brick and mortar scrapbook store. Most likely, the scrapbooker will not be able to find any scrapbooking supplies of people of color at a brick and mortar store. For example, stickers of people are almost always of white people. Embellishments about love relationships are always heterosexual in nature even when they could be sexual orientation-neutral.
The lack of diversity among scrapbooking products is not lost on scrapbookers. For example, one lesbian respondent mentions how irritated she gets when she picks up a sheet of stickers about love and inevitably there is a sticker that says “the man I love.” The sticker sheet could easily have been sexual orientation-neutral if it had not included this sticker. The manufacturer could have expanded their market and sold more stickers.
Overall, scrapbook products reflect a very traditional view of America. For instance, I have never seen scrapbook stickers or papers about step-parenthood or step-siblings. Products about multiples (i.e., twins, triplets) or adoption do exist but are difficult to find offline. Arguably, no one needs any of these products to actually create their scrapbook and tell their story, however, the fact that these products rarely, if ever exist communicates to scrapbookers who belongs and who does not, whose lives are scrapworthy and whose are not, what is worth memorializing and what is not.