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Political Entrepreneurs and Regioneers: A Netnographic Study of Regional Identity and Soft Regionalism in Somerset, England

Mooney, Zachary LU (2015) TKAM02 20151
Division of Ethnology
Abstract
Soft regionalism and regional identities in Great Britain has seldom been explored beyond the national debates of Scotland, Wales, and Cornwall. Many recent local studies in England have, too, been neglected. This study is set against the backdrop of the ongoing debates around devolution within the United Kingdom and the creation of new regional authorities and city-regions. This thesis investigates how material culture, place-myths, and 'identity-talk' is used by two different social agents to inform, conceptualise, create legitimacy for, and challenge regional identity, using the case study of Somerset, England. A different methodology than is usually applied to regional studies, virtual ethnography or netnography, is used to demonstrate... (More)
Soft regionalism and regional identities in Great Britain has seldom been explored beyond the national debates of Scotland, Wales, and Cornwall. Many recent local studies in England have, too, been neglected. This study is set against the backdrop of the ongoing debates around devolution within the United Kingdom and the creation of new regional authorities and city-regions. This thesis investigates how material culture, place-myths, and 'identity-talk' is used by two different social agents to inform, conceptualise, create legitimacy for, and challenge regional identity, using the case study of Somerset, England. A different methodology than is usually applied to regional studies, virtual ethnography or netnography, is used to demonstrate the method's significance in the future of regional studies due to the increasing number of people using social media and the internet to exhibit their identity. Regional identity is problematised through the use of two distinct types of agents discovered in Somerset, political entrepreneurs and regioneers. Originating from Thomas O'Dell's concept of the regionaut, this study introduces the regioneer that actively handles and produces material culture within their region to exhibit their regional identity. The existence of these new agents is indicative of the ever growing tourist and heritage industries in counties and regions within England and the commodification of these regional identities. Using the concepts of border, institutionalisation, and place, contested regions and regional identity are also discussed using the case study of the former county of Avon in England. This study contributes to the use of cultural analysis in regional studies and explores the role of the internet in future identity formation. It also attempts to contribute to the devolution debate and show the significance of cultural and regional identities in the decision making processes in creating functional regions particularly in county regions such as Somerset. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Soft regionalism och regionala identiteter i Storbritannien har sällan blivit utforskade utöver nationella debatter avseende Skottland, England, Wales och Cornwall. Dessutom har även många senare regionala studier i England försummats helt. Denna studie har sin bakgrund i den pågående debatten om decentrialisering (devolution) och skapandet av nya regionala myndigheter och urbaner-regioner i Storbritannien. Denna avhandling fastställer hur den materiella kulturen, place-myths och identity-talk används av två olika sociala agenter för att informera, konceptualisera, skapa legitimitet för, och utmana regional identitet genom att använda Somerset, England, som fallstudie. En annan metod än den som normalt används vid regionala studer,... (More)
Soft regionalism och regionala identiteter i Storbritannien har sällan blivit utforskade utöver nationella debatter avseende Skottland, England, Wales och Cornwall. Dessutom har även många senare regionala studier i England försummats helt. Denna studie har sin bakgrund i den pågående debatten om decentrialisering (devolution) och skapandet av nya regionala myndigheter och urbaner-regioner i Storbritannien. Denna avhandling fastställer hur den materiella kulturen, place-myths och identity-talk används av två olika sociala agenter för att informera, konceptualisera, skapa legitimitet för, och utmana regional identitet genom att använda Somerset, England, som fallstudie. En annan metod än den som normalt används vid regionala studer, virtuell etnografi eller netnografi, används här för att demonstrera metodens betydelse för framtida regionala studier på grund av det ökade användandet av internet och sociala medier i uttryckandet av social identitet.
Regional identitet problematiseras genom användandet av två olika typer av agenter upptäckta i Somerset, politiska entreprenörer och regionärer. Med rötter i Thomas O’Dells koncept regionaut myntas här begreppet regionär (regioneer), en som aktivt agerar för- och producerar materiell kultur inom sin region för att uttrycka sin regionala identitet. Förekomsten av dessa två nya agenter är vägledande för ökade turist- och kulturarvsindustrier i län och regioner i England och för skapandet av de regionala identiteterna. Genom att använda koncepten gränser, institutionalisation och plats, diskuteras även ifrågasatta regioner och regionala identiteter genom användandet av det tidigare distriktet Avon, i England.
Denna studie bidrar till användandet av kulturanalys i regionala studier och utforskar internets roll i skapandet av framtidens identiteter. Studien strävar även efter att bidra till decentrialiseringsdebatten (devolution debate) och att visa betydelsen av kulturella och regionala identiteter vid beslutsfattandet inför skapandet av funktionella regioner, framförallt i län som Somerset. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Mooney, Zachary LU
supervisor
organization
course
TKAM02 20151
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
identity, cultural analysis, political entrepreneur, commodification, soft regionalism, heritage, region, Somerset, England, Britain, MACA
language
English
id
7448432
date added to LUP
2015-09-22 11:48:51
date last changed
2015-09-22 11:48:51
@misc{7448432,
  abstract     = {Soft regionalism and regional identities in Great Britain has seldom been explored beyond the national debates of Scotland, Wales, and Cornwall. Many recent local studies in England have, too, been neglected. This study is set against the backdrop of the ongoing debates around devolution within the United Kingdom and the creation of new regional authorities and city-regions. This thesis investigates how material culture, place-myths, and 'identity-talk' is used by two different social agents to inform, conceptualise, create legitimacy for, and challenge regional identity, using the case study of Somerset, England. A different methodology than is usually applied to regional studies, virtual ethnography or netnography, is used to demonstrate the method's significance in the future of regional studies due to the increasing number of people using social media and the internet to exhibit their identity. Regional identity is problematised through the use of two distinct types of agents discovered in Somerset, political entrepreneurs and regioneers. Originating from Thomas O'Dell's concept of the regionaut, this study introduces the regioneer that actively handles and produces material culture within their region to exhibit their regional identity. The existence of these new agents is indicative of the ever growing tourist and heritage industries in counties and regions within England and the commodification of these regional identities. Using the concepts of border, institutionalisation, and place, contested regions and regional identity are also discussed using the case study of the former county of Avon in England. This study contributes to the use of cultural analysis in regional studies and explores the role of the internet in future identity formation. It also attempts to contribute to the devolution debate and show the significance of cultural and regional identities in the decision making processes in creating functional regions particularly in county regions such as Somerset.},
  author       = {Mooney, Zachary},
  keyword      = {identity,cultural analysis,political entrepreneur,commodification,soft regionalism,heritage,region,Somerset,England,Britain,MACA},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Political Entrepreneurs and Regioneers: A Netnographic Study of Regional Identity and Soft Regionalism in Somerset, England},
  year         = {2015},
}