Each Wednesday, I write a post from my dissertation.
Some people become scrapbookers because they are already doing related activities. For example Latter-day Saints (LDS) keep journals as records of their lives as part of their religious practice. Scrapbooking is a natural extension of this activity. In fact, many manufacturers of scrapbooking supplies are companies owned and operated by LDS members. Others had worked on their school’s yearbook, newspaper, or other school assignment and were introduced to principles of scrapbooking through that work. Another respondent learned about the hobby when she began volunteering as the historian for a group she was a part of not having any idea what the responsibilities included. Through this activity, she learned about scrapbooking. Some respondents became scrapbookers because of their involvement in other crafts. Crafts are what they do, so naturally they would try scrapbooking just as they would try knitting or quilting. A common pathway to becoming a scrapbooker is completing related projects that draw on principles of scrapbooking, such as card making.
Instead of or in addition to people coming to scrapbooking through a related project, another common path is experiencing a life changing event. Life changing events include the birth of a child (becoming a mother or aunt, specifically), a wedding, an important vacation (e.g., a trip to Europe or an Alaskan cruise, not a weekend trip to a city one has already visited), one’s child’s high school graduation, one’s own retirement, or a death of a loved one.
The birth of a child or a wedding can be thought of as the beginning of the family (Noble 2004) and is the event that propelled them into scrapbooking. The scrapbook then, symbolizes a break between “everything that happened prior to a given historical turning point from everything that has happened since” (Zerubavel 1998:317). In this way, the scrapbooker lumps together that which they were (child-free or single) from that which they are (a mother/father or wife/husband).
People, who become scrapbookers as a result of a life changing event or other reasons, do not necessarily jump right into scrapbooking. For example, one respondent had always kept photo albums and had been given supplies to start a scrapbook. She said the supplies sat in her closet for years before she finally started scrapbooking because she knew it could become very expensive. She credits getting a digital camera as being the impetus to start scrapbooking as now she “started taking way too many pictures” and she needed to do something with them.
For many respondents, their entrée into scrapbooking was a long time coming. Many had collected memorabilia or were taking lots of photographs throughout their life. They organized this stuff in various ways (e.g., magnetic albums) before discovering scrapbooking (and its archival properties, which magnetic albums lack) and began scrapbooking by redoing previously made albums.
People become scrapbookers as a way to spend time with their loved ones. Two man scrapbookers started scrapbooking to spend time with their partners who were already scrapbooking. They both scrapbook their own projects while their partners work on their own scrapbooks, too. Both respondents had only taken up scrapbooking within a few months of our interview and it is unknown if they came to take on the identity of a scrapbooker or if they continue to see it more as something to do rather than something they are.
Though scrapbooking with others is uncommon among my respondents, many respondents are introduced to the hobby through a friend, family member, neighbor, or even co-worker. They may not actually scrapbook with those people, but they spend some scrapbooking time with those people (e.g., talking about scrapbooking, sharing ideas, or shopping for supplies). Not all scrapbookers who were introduced to the hobby in this way, jumped right in. For example, one respondent had a co-worker that scrapbooks and she asked her to bring in her scrapbooks so she could see them. What really intrigued her was that this was a way to record her life now so that her future children could see what she did before she had children (she knew nothing about her own parent’s lives pre-children, despite them being married for several years prior to her arrival). She is still somewhat apprehensive about becoming a scrapbooker just because she thought it was kind of hokey. Another respondent comments how stupid she thought scrapbooking was when she first learned about it in her early twenties. Today she has an entire room in her house devoted to scrapbooking. Another respondent says she started scrapbooking because her mom is an Inspired Stories [pseudonym] consultant, so she joked that she “had no other choice.” She actually started scrapbooking in college when her mom introduced the hobby to her roommates (both of whom had mothers who had passed away). They were having fun with it so she decided to join them.
Most of my respondents do not watch any scrapbooking television, but one respondent actually became a scrapbooker because she saw it on QVC. QVC had programming about various scrapbooking products and she decided that scrapbooking is something that interested her. She started ordering products and became a scrapbooker this way.
Finally, people may scrapbook for a very specific reason and not consider her or himself to be a scrapbooker. One respondent created a scrapbook as a way to show people that he did have hair in high school (he began balding at age 19) and eventually his scrapbook about his LDS mission serves as a communication tool for others when he talks to them about his mission. This respondent does not consider himself to be a scrapbooker and refers to his box full of memorabilia and photos that will probably not be scrapbooked out of laziness as indicative of him not really being a scrapbooker.
There are many pathways to becoming a scrapbooker and not all people who ever create a scrapbook consider themselves to be scrapbookers. Moreover, scrapbookers have varying levels of experience and knowledge about scrapbooking. Next week, I’ll talk about these levels of scrapbooking: beginning scrapbookers and ongoing scrapbookers.
How did you learn about scrapbooking? Comment below or join the conversation on facebook or twitter.
Noble, Greg. 2004. “Accumulating Being.” International Journal of Cultural Studies 7(2):233-56.
Zerubavel, Eviatar. 1997. Social Mindscapes: An Invitation to Cognitive Sociology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
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