My study focuses on a
coastal town, Cromer, and two market towns, Holt and Stalham, on the north coast of the English county of Norfolk. North Norfolk consists
solely of A-roads with no primary motorway and is approximately 23 miles north
of Norfolk’s major city Norwich.
The identity of a
place is multifaceted and so I have two further research questions to direct attention
are the endogenous and/or exogenous factors influencing North Norfolk’s identity?
have different forms and sources of representation impacted North Norfolk’s
When trying to consider
the identity of a place, we must understand that a place is a geographical and
mappable location with meanings attached to it. These may be positive, such as
the feeling of topophilia which can be “broadly defined to include all of the
human beings’ affective ties with the material environment” (Tuan, 1974), or
negative. This layered nature of place is how places should be understood. There
are several agents of change that help to mould a places identity. For example,
governmental bodies, residents and institutions all play a role in developing a
places infrastructure, demographics and environmental quality predominantly through
altering legislation. A common method of changing the representation of a place
is though rebranding. Local and national governing bodies may often introduce a
scheme, alter infrastructure or add further facilities to promote a certain
type of behaviour and attract a different demographic of people. As a result, a
places identity is changed, whether intentional or not. A simple example might be
that a local council adds more museums and focuses on advertising to attract more
tourists so that place becomes known as a tourist town. Additionally, the environmental
quality and surrounding building quality can determine how a place is represented,
when observed by people living and visiting that place.
A place can also provide
a constituent part of the personal identity of others, who are regarded as
insiders and outsiders, relative to that place. An insider develops their sense
of identity though lived and shared experiences in a familiar place such as daily
grocery shopping and the school run. This subjective enables an understanding
of the community’s sense of place. An outsider develops their sense of place either
through new experiences and discovery, or from the representations of a place that
are far reaching. By recognising the differences between near and far places or
experienced and media places, a more wholesome picture of a place’s identity
can be unveiled. However, the feeling of being an insider or an outsider is quite
intricate, in that one can, for example, live in a town for many years yet
still be an outsider if they do not fully understand the unwritten rules of
that place that may guide social interactions and how the town runs.
Finally, all place
can only be understood once you recognise that they are intrinsically dynamic.
They are “a geographical nexus of connections and linkages including flows of
people, ideas, information, wealth and things, which come together in and
define a geographical location or locality” (Richard, n.a.). These flows are affected
by a place’s proximity to another place and the infrastructure that allow the
flows to occur. The more open the channels are, the greater impact two places
will have on each other which will help determine the cultural, socioeconomic
and demographic characteristics of the place’s, “beyond the original endogenous
factors that created it in the first place” (Redfern, 2016).