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Title: Local identity identification & assessment : the theory, methodology and practice of discovering local identity in Yantai, China
Author: Shao, Yuhan
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2014
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The purpose of this thesis is to establish a formal definition of the term Local Identity and develop an efficient methodology to identify and assess such local identities. This can help to underpin an understanding of the importance of local identity in modern urban design processes and to help protect such identities to form a better urban environment. The thesis first formalises the definition of local identity and points out its importance via a thorough literature review, and then applies the panoramic photo elicitation interview (PPEI) technique developed in this thesis to a case study in Yantai (China) to investigate ways of identifying and assessing local identity. An efficient data analysis approach is also proposed to visualise and investigate research data effectively. Local identity plays an important role in improving and maintaining the quality of urban environments and enhancing the quality of human life. However, there has not been a formal definition of the term. In addition, various similar ideas have been set out by different researchers, thus, bringing confusion and ambiguity to the various terms defining local identity and this confusion has always been an issue in the realm of landscape study. Due to this lack of clarity, practitioners have not realised the importance of local identity during their developing process. And because of globalisation, more and more cities are starting to redevelop by copying other successful cities, resulting in a considerable number of cities being similar, sometimes even identical. Such phenomenon has caused a vast amount of local identities to vanish in the last 10 years. Therefore this thesis concentrates on crystalizing the formal definition of local identity and, most importantly, explains its importance in the process of urban development in relation to human society. This research commences with a solid review of relevant literatures on local identity to understand the background. After the understanding and importance of local identity is established, the thesis then focuses on developing an effective methodology to identify and assess such identity. This is in regard to the practical use of local identity. Subsequently, the PPEI technique was developed and used to better identify and assess different elements that could represent local identity from various aspects effectively. The PPEI provides particular insights into the overall thoughts on local identity elements of participants with different backgrounds. As a comparative study between different groups of participants, this thesis has applied a case study to Yantai (China) to testify the validity of the method developed. Based on data analysis, a representative set of ranked tables and mappings have been developed to help users to visualise both positive and negative identities on the local map. The case study in this thesis identified a number of potential parameters in local identity, which can be used for improving landscape study and urban design process. The roles of local identity, its importance, and the effectiveness of the thesis methodology are discussed in order to ascertain the ways in which local identity can be promoted in landscape study and urban development process. Certain benefits and obstacles in both local identity and thesis method are also discussed to investigate potential opportunities in the future. Furthermore, the meanings of research findings are addressed from different perspectives in order to explore the importance of such findings from all angles in both academic and practical use.
Supervisor: Lange, Eckart Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available