Each Wednesday, I usually write a post from my dissertation.
Whether a scrapbook has a clear beginning or ending is only one consideration for how complete a scrapbook is. Another aspect to consider regarding how complete a scrapbook is has to do with whether or not the whole story is included on the scrapbook page. Journaling may be missing, for instance.
From my photo-elicitation interviews, I find that very rarely is the whole story included. The oral narrative almost always provides more details than the scrapbook page. Moreover, the photo-elicitation interviews with a family member or a friend of the scrapbooker really drives this point home when they either give me additional details or are unable to communicate anything beyond what is physically in front of them on the scrapbook page. For example, one scrapbook page contains one photograph of the respondent, her son, and her husband and the journaling says “lunch with mom and dad ’04.” That is it. When I looked at the page with my respondent and then looked at it separately with her son, both respondents told me about how this was a real special day because all three family members were able to make it to the lunch at school. Normally, only the respondent (mom) is able to make it to the lunch with her son. This part of the story is not mentioned on the scrapbook page and a person would have no way of knowing this story except through viewing the scrapbook page with the scrapbooker or with her son who was in the photograph.
Scrapbooks are like autobiographies in that they can only be understood in their entirety if one understands who is included in the intended audience (Bjorklund 1998). Scrapbookers only need to provide as much information as they believe their intended audience needs in order to interpret the story. In the above example, if the primary audience is the nuclear family, then the scrapbooker successfully told the whole store on her scrapbook page. If the audience is supposed to extend beyond her nuclear family, then she did not tell the whole story because an oral narrative was prompted to fill me in on what was not recorded on the layout.
Do you think your scrapbooks tell complete stories? Why or why not? What role does audience play in how complete your stories are?