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Collaborative Methods in Researching City Branding: Studies from Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Sydney

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This article illustrates and reflects upon the nature of inquiry appropriate to the question of place branding, in particular, world city branding. Disciplinary research traditions including cultural studies, film studies, marketing, and psychology offer conceptual categories and valuable modes of access to this area, and our concern here is to examine whether these compete or converge in forming understanding. Noting both the benefits and challenges of working across quite different paradigms of thought, vocabulary, and expected outcome, we discuss the possibilities of mutual shaping or influence in interdisciplinary inquiry. Acknowledging issues in establishing a working and meaningful discursive field across disciplinary boundaries, interests, and methodological habits, we illustrate, using a range of qualitative, projective, and quantitative methods, the collection, evaluation, and analysis of primary and secondary data in a current project. This looks at the major Pacific Rim cities of Sydney, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, and particular issues of their brand identity. While all three cities compete on the world stage for events, tourists, and investment, they also are at the center of distinct film traditions, and have been rendered variously in popular imagination. We examine the representation of the city in the mind of some of its publics, and the relation of this to the requirements of branding. We find common ground in critical categories including narrative, everyday life, and color, and view these as a plexus from which various discipline-focused inquiries may proceed. We also discuss how central notions of identity, character, and representation are conceptualized differently within disciplines, and note implications for place-branding theory. We conclude that greater cross-disciplinarity is required for appropriate understanding, and that both tourism marketing and cultural (especially film) studies can learn from each other.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-08-01

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  • Tourism, Culture & Communication is international in its scope and will place no restrictions upon the range of cultural identities covered, other than the need to relate to tourism and hospitality. The Journal seeks to provide interdisciplinary perspectives in areas of interest that may branch away from traditionally recognized national and indigenous cultures, for example, cultural attitudes toward the management of tourists with disabilities, gender aspects of tourism, sport tourism, or age-specific tourism.
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