Masters by Research
School of Management and Marketing
Baxter, Jessica, A systemic functional approach to place identity: a case study of the city of Wollongong, Masters by Research thesis, School of Management and Marketing, University of Wollongong, 2011. http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/3370
Places, like corporations, have an identity and image, identity being more of an internal construct of place, and image being projected and developed externally. This research argues that identity is a pluralistic construct, meaning that corporations, and indeed places, have multiple identities. Language plays a functional role in construction of place identity, as identities are expressed through communication. Although place identity has been studied across disciplines, it has been given limited attention in place management and place marketing. As such, there are inadequate methodological guidelines for revealing a place‟s identities and none of which focus on the importance of language. This thesis argues that place managers should be aware of the multiple identities that exist. This knowledge allows managers to be aware of alignment, gaps and even conflicts between the stated brand identity and the population of identities. The premise of multiple identities existing within an organisation is argued by Identification Theory and Social Semiotics, both of which are used to guide this study. This research uses a case study methodology, whereby a single-case study of the City of Wollongong, Australia, was selected. In light of the communicative nature of place identity, data was collected from a purposeful sample of residents by way of semi-structured interviews. Considering the functional role of language in identity formation, analysis of the transcripts was guided by Systemic Functional Linguistics. Reference theory and system networks were used to reveal and model the identities of Wollongong. The findings reveal a range of identities, some being complementary, while others not so. The results prove the usefulness of the methodology when revealing a place‟s identities and provides a foundation for analysis of gaps or misalignment‟s between the population of identities and a proposed brand identity. As well as developing a novel methodology to reveal the identities of a place, the findings are of value to place managers as they provide the opportunity to better understand and implement place marketing strategies.