The Dissertation

Scrapworthy Lives is a blog about scrapbooking with a sometimes sociological twist. My dissertation, Scrapworthy Lives: A Cognitive Sociological Analysis of a Modern Narrative Form, is the inspiration for the site and each Wednesday, the posts come directly from my dissertation. The rest of the days contain posts about scrapbooking that are not specifically related to my dissertation.

Here are a few posts from my dissertation to get you started:

And here is the abstract from my dissertation:

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 valued—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 respondent had completed. I used grounded theory methods to analyze my data, providing a more thorough understanding of scrapbooking.

Scrapbooks are a site where people socially construct a narrative of their life. Through scrapbooking, scrapbookers do gender, family, race, ethnicity, and religion. Stratification within the larger society can be seen within the scrapbooking thought community. Moreover, through scrapbooking, one can demonstrate their membership in other thought communities (e.g., motherhood). Though a scrapbooker is able to demonstrate their gender, family status, race, ethnicity, and religion through scrapbooking, the hobby is done primarily for the scrapbooker and not for others. Scrapbooking is a leisure activity, though some may consider it as a form of work.

Scrapbookers are a thought community in their own right and an excellent site to explore Zerubavel’s (1997) six cognitive acts (i.e., perceiving, classifying, reckoning time, attending, assigning meaning, and remembering). In particular, scrapbookers come to classify nearly everything (including people, things, time, and space) in the world around them as either scrapworthy or not.

Scrapbooks are a modern narrative form though versions of scrapbooks have been around for centuries. Scrapbooks are memorials about everyday life. The content of scrapbooks is what is left out of the typical history book but is considered just as memorable by the individual scrapbooker. Scrapbookers are storytellers. These stories could just as easily be passed down orally or recorded on blogs and some scrapbooks combine elements of oral histories and blogs. Ultimately, scrapbooks are memorials about the scrapbooker.

Click here for a pdf version of my dissertation.

And if you would like to review just a section of the dissertation, I have split it up below. If you are referencing the dissertation, make sure you reference from the complete file as page numbers in the smaller files might not match with the main document.

  1. Front Matter (Title, Abstract, Acknowledgments, Table of Contents)
  2. Chapter 1_Introduction
  3. Chapter 2_Theoretical Framework
  4. Chapter 3_Methods
  5. Chapter 4_The Scrapbooking Thought Community
  6. Chapter 5_Doing Gender, Family, Race, Ethnicity, and Religion
  7. Chapter 6_Scrapbooking as a Classification System
  8. Chapter 7_Time
  9. Chapter 8_Social Memories
  10. Chapter 9_Conclusions
  11. References
  12. Appendices

Updated July 7, 2011