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Defining Identity in the Face of Rapid Urban Growth: Changing Times in a Regional Australian City

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Abstract:

The Australian regional city of Ipswich is a place undergoing significant change through rapid urban development and population growth. This article is concerned with testing anecdotal views about the importance of ‘community’ to Ipswich residents and what that might consist of. It draws on exploratory research into local constructions of Ipswich's identity and how rapid growth may be impacting it. As a first stage in the research process, six local leaders were interviewed about their perceptions of the city in this changing urban environment. Across the sample, Ipswich's identity was defined by its sense of community, heritage and history, social and economic growth, geography of place, and local leadership and vision. Participants described a positive transformation of Ipswich's identity overall. This article illuminates elements in Ipswich's identity viewed by participants as of local importance. Ipswich's sense of community was the element participants talked most about preserving in the face of urban growth. Discussed in this article are the study's findings, limitations and potential research directions.

Keywords: Place; identity; local leaders; sense of community; urban growth

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08111146.2012.664895

Affiliations: 1: UQ Boilerhouse Community Engagement Centre, The University of Queensland, Ipswich,Queensland, Australia 2: Faculty of Social & Behavioural Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia,Queensland, Australia

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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