The Myth of the Guilty Scrapbooker

This entry is part 18 of 86 in the series Scrapworthy Lives Results

Each Wednesday, I write a post from my dissertation.

Industry workers work to convince others that scrapbooking has value and is a fun hobby to do in order to sell scrapbooking products (and validate their own participation in the hobby). They guide potential scrapbookers to scrapbooking. One industry worker emphasizes that her role is to help people to scrapbook even if that means holding their hand to get it done. She says she helps remove the overwhelming feelings and guilt that many potential scrapbookers feel. Guilt, it seems, is something potential scrapbookers are thought to feel. But do they?

Though I did not ask my respondents specifically about the role of guilt as it relates to scrapbooking, very few expressed having any guilt or if they had guilt it was said tongue-in-cheek (e.g., mothers of more than one child kidded that their younger children had fewer photographs and scrapbook pages compared to the oldest child because that is just what happens to younger children). Guilt prompted one respondent to create a scrapbook for her current boyfriend about their relationship because she had made one for her previous boyfriend (and the current boyfriend was aware of this fact). Even though she made her current boyfriend a scrapbook she still feels guilty because she was not able to do as elaborate of a first page for her current boyfriend as she did for her previous boyfriend due to constraints on her time.

Guilt is also experienced through scrapbooking if it involves leaving the home in order to scrapbook. One respondent comments that she feels less guilty about attending an in-store crop because she had taken off of work earlier in the week and spent time with her son (she took off of work due to medical issues with her child, not just so she could scrapbook that weekend).

Guilt is expressed in unpredicted ways. For example, one respondent feels guilty about not including photos she has printed or supplies she has purchased because it seems wasteful to just throw them away. In fact many scrapbookers explain that items are included in the scrapbook because they just are there—they exist in their stash. In a culture where being wasteful is increasingly discouraged, throwing things out can seem wrong and can cause feelings of guilt if they are wasted.

So there you have it. Guilt is perceived to be something that is experienced by most scrapbookers. The reality is that few scrapbookers express guilt as shaping their scrapbooking in any way. Perhaps I would have learned more about guilt if I had flat out asked, but I do believe that my questions got at the question of guilt even if they were not explicitly about guilt.

What role does guilt play in your experience as as scrapbooker? Comment below or join the conversation on facebook or twitter.Boston, MA: George Allen & Unwin.
Kelly, John R. 1992. “Counterpoints in the Sociology of Leisure.” Leisure Science 14(3):247-53.

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