Each Wednesday, I write a post from my dissertation.
Many scrapbookers consider themselves addicted to scrapbooking. Newspaper reporters commonly describe scrapbooking as addicting, an obsession, and a passion. My respondents also use these terms when describing their or others relationship to scrapbooking.
Some scrapbookers consider themselves addicted to buying scrapbooking product, scrapbooking itself, or both. Industry workers commonly come to work in the industry because they are able to get their supplies at a discounted rate as an industry worker. Industry workers often say that they began working in the industry because they “were always there [at the store] anyway …might as well get paid to be there [and] … get the larger discount.”
Many scrapbookers become “hooked” on scrapbooking after completing one project. For example, a scrapbooker may intend to complete one and only one scrapbook and once it is completed, find other scrapbooking projects to complete. In this case, scrapbooking is what is addictive. Scrapbookers are neither the first nor the last hobbyists to describe or be described by others as addicted to their hobby. For example, Wheaton (2000) finds that windsurfers often describe their hobby as so addicting that they do not want to make other plans just in case it is windy enough to windsurf and Major (2001:24) observes that serious runners occasionally show “addiction-like symptoms” if the runner has missed a run.
Downs (2006:114) argues that scrapbook stores feed the addiction through issuing punch cards to encourage customer loyalty and to encourage “women to spend more money in order to receive a full punch,” though scrapbook stores are neither the first nor the only type of business with customer loyalty programs. The scrapbook industry also encourages scrapbookers to conceptualize their hobby as an addiction by producing merchandise such as stickers (for use in a scrapbook) that proclaim “Addicted to Cropping” (Downs 2006) or through brand names, such as Stampers Anonymous, which sells a line of stamps. Moreover, scrapbookers describe their quest to get others addicted to the hobby. This seems to be especially true among respondents who have few if any friends who currently scrapbook, one respondent mentions how others refer to her as a “scrapbook pusher.”
Are there people truly addicted to scrapbooking? Are there people who lose their jobs or family members because they simply are unable to stop scrapbooking long enough to keep them? Perhaps, but this seems highly unlikely. Being addicted to scrapbooking appears to be like being addicted to collecting other items. Belk (1995:141) argues that:
for most collectors who describe themselves as suffering from a disease (a mania, madness, addiction, obsession, or compulsion), the use of such terms is only half-serious hyperbole intended to justify their ostensibly selfish and indulgent collecting behavior as something they cannot help.
In other words, considering scrapbooking as an addiction, allows a person to justify making purchases to support their craft or spending time on their craft. Hobbyists use the language of addiction because to participate in their leisure pursuit is a choice (Brackett 2000). Despite the lack of seriousness in considering scrapbooking as an addiction on par with drug, alcohol, or gambling addictions, considering it as an addiction serves to undermine the hobby. For instance, Doyle (1998), who studied quilters argues that conceptualizing quilting as an addiciotn serves to undermine quilting as a serious leisure pursuit.
I suppose the moral of this post is that perhaps we should stop talking about how addicted we are to scrapbooking, as if we have no control over either our actions or hobby choices. I enjoy scrapbooking. I make no excuses for my enjoyment. If I want to scrapbook, I’m going to scrapbook. I don’t need to consider it as an addiction in order to do it.
What do you think? Are you addicted to scrapbooking? Do you think that thinking about it as an addiction undermines the hobby in that outsiders will take it less seriously? Comment below or join the conversation on facebook or twitter.
Belk, Russell W. 1995. Collecting in Consumer Society. New York: Routledge.
Brackett, Kim Pettigrew. 2000. “Facework Strategies among Romance Fiction Readors.” The Social Science Journal 37(3):347-60.
Downs, Heather Ann. 2006. “Crafting Culture: Scrapbooking and the Lives of Women.” PhD dissertation, Department of Sociology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL.
Doyle, Amanda. 1998. “The Fabric of Their Lives: Quilters Negotiating Time and Space.” Women’s Studies Journal 14(1):107-29.
Major, Wayne F. 2001. “The Benefits and Costs of Serious Running.” World Leisure 43(2):12-25.
Wheaton, Belinda. 2000. “ ‘Just Do It’: Consumption, Commitment, and Identity in the Windsurfing Subculture.” Sociology of Sport Journal 17(3):254-74.
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