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                            Georgia State University
ScholarWorks @ Georgia State University
	Summer 8-18-2010
Scrapworthy Lives: A Cognitive Sociological Analysis of a Modern Narrative Form
	Stephanie R. Medley-Rath
		Recommended Citation
Document Text Contents
Page 1

Georgia State University
ScholarWorks @ Georgia State University

Sociology Dissertations Department of Sociology

Summer 8-18-2010

Scrapworthy Lives: A Cognitive Sociological
Analysis of a Modern Narrative Form
Stephanie R. Medley-Rath
Georgia State University

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This Dissertation is brought to you for free and open access by the Department of Sociology at ScholarWorks @ Georgia State University. It has been
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Recommended Citation
Medley-Rath, Stephanie R., "Scrapworthy Lives: A Cognitive Sociological Analysis of a Modern Narrative Form." Dissertation,
Georgia State University, 2010.
mailto:[email protected]

Page 2





Under the Direction of Ralph LaRossa


Over the past 20 years, scrapbooking has become immensely popular in America. This

dissertation is the study of scrapworthy lives, that is, how lives become structured by

scrapbooking and how people show others that their own life and the lives of their loves ones are

value or scrapworthy. I conducted in-depth interviews with 38 scrapbookers, 11 scrapbook

industry workers, and 10 family and friends of scrapbookers. I also used photo-elicitation

interviewing techniques with both the scrapbookers and the family members and friends of 10

scrapbookers to examine a selection of scrapbook pages the respondents had completed. I used

grounded theory methods to analyze my data, providing a more thorough understanding of


Page 164


Others consider the corkboard to be a pre-scrapbook. The corkboard is a place where a

scrapbooker stores items temporarily until they are scrapbooked. In this sense, the corkboard is

not unl

(Ott et al. 2006:12).

both. Other scholars agree with this characterization. According to Ott et al. (2006:3) scrapbooks

Though the center of most scrapbooks is photographs, scrapbooks are not photograph

albums. For many respondents, including only the basic details of a photograph are not enough

for it to be a scrapbook. The journaling needs to explain the story behind the photograph. Instead

of just the who

emotions, and reactions to whatever is being scrapbooked. An album where a person can slip in

photographs and label the photographs, for the most part, is not considered to be a scrapbook by

my respondents.

When pressed as to whether the conventional photograph album could be transformed

into a scrapbook, most emphasize the decoration. If I added some pretty paper or stickers, then

that would help. Most said, more details of the story need to be included, but I could write that in

on slips of paper and put the journaling in a spot intended for a photograph.

Though scrapbooks do not have to contain products produced by the scrapbooking

industry, nearly every scrapbook I was shown did. It seems then, that scrapbooks must contain

product, something my conventional photo album and corkboard do not. This definition of a

scrapbook is the definition the industry promotes. If scrapbooking magazines select reader-

submitted pages with only words and photographs, then

Page 165


profits? Scrapbooks made by scrapbookers outside of the mainstream scrapbooking thought

community looked different from the scrapbooks made by scrapbookers within the mainstream

scrapbooking thought community. For example, a couple of respondents include no product

beyond their photographs and writing, which is rather atypical.

Scrapbooks are Distinct from Diaries and Journals

The main difference between most diaries or journals and scrapbooks is that the latter

includes photographs along with words instead of just words. Others argue that journals can also

contain photographs, so the photographs are not the defining line between a journal and a

scrapbook. The role of the photographs affects the content of a journal or a scrapbook. It seems

that journals and diaries may contain photographs, but are thought-led. Scrapbooks, on the other

hand, also contain words, but are photograph-led meaning most memories are scrapbooked

because a photograph exists to prompt the memory. One respondent describes

in comparison to scrapbooks, though scrapbooks are characterized

in the same way. Seabrook (1991:176) argues that photographs serve as a prompt for memories

are different because they contain the extras: pattern paper and embellishments, and journals do

not. In this sense, the story is essentially the same but the way the story is told differs. Buckler

(2006) argues that diaries, journals, and even letters are distinct from scrapbooks in that the

former are briefer.

Some respondents say they keep scrapbooks instead of keeping a diary or a journal,

suggesting that scrapbooks, journals, and diaries are all alternatives of the same thing. Others

treat their scrapbooks like a diary or a journal some of the time. Still others keep diaries and

journals in addition to making scrapbooks. A respondent who keeps both journals and

Page 329


Other 4

Other topics include dieting, child rearing and relationships or

understanding of self, and best friend's wedding.

Will or character 11

Other 10

Other includes journaling day to day emotions, funerals, BDSM, poly

couples, pagan festivals, bisexual dates, gay humor, everyday life such

as restaurants where I like to eat, movies that I saw, things that I bought

and how much they cost, messes that my one-year-old makes, LDS

mission trip, daily activities, favorite toys, nicknames, community

events or stories, rotary club, conferences, talks by authors, friends and

friendships, and how I feel about the kids.

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