The Research Proposal
PLACE BRANDING revisited in a user-generated era: the role of new digital platforms in shaping place identity.
Here is the essence of my dissertation - in one poster. A crowded poster, that breaks all design principles but it's a 40 page document condensed into one .jpeg so I'm celebrating that.
My hypothesis is that place branding has transmuted once again with the rapid acceleration of place-brand making through user-generated content (UGC) makers. This is all achieved through a plethora of digital media platforms. The questions arising include: do these new actors and platforms in place branding create and/or influence new growth agendas for cities? What role do they play in directing resources to certain infrastructure? And not others? Whose voices are included and whose may be excluded in these new place-branding moments? And, lastly, in the “cutthroat competition for the scarcest of scarce resource is the attention of would-be consumers” (Bauman, 2013), is the future of place-branding becoming and likely to become less about advertising and promotion and more about policy-making?
Measuring digitally-driven urban change and place branding are areas lacking in-depth empirical research and are currently under-theorized (Anholt, 2006; Avraham, 2020; Vanolo, 2015). Questions remain as to the extent to which these place-branders are influencing a growth-mindset or other forms of development such as a sustainability or a social justice approach. Is paying attention to user-generated content in place-branding a new way to build an economy?