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Title: The construction of suburban residential identity in developers' promotional material : with specific reference to North Swindon
Author: Marvell, Alan D.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5993 3390
Awarding Body: University of Gloucestershire
Current Institution: University of Gloucestershire
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis identifies the multiple meanings of the contemporary suburb by exploring the construction of suburban residential identities through an analysis of developers’ promotional literature. Special reference is made to a large housing development in North Swindon, which was regarded as Britain’s biggest housing scheme when construction first began in 1994 (Webb, 1994; Boddy et al., 1997; Marvell, 2004). Home to over 30,000 people, the final parts of the development are still awaiting completion at the time of writing. Using an approach inspired by Roland Barthes (1972; 1977), this thesis uncovers the multiple meanings of the contemporary suburb in terms of how it is portrayed by housing developers. Interviews with representatives from various housing developers, town planners and architects have helped to identify the process of brochure production and the representation of suburban identities. The findings suggest that meanings within the suburb are not static and change over time. The meanings are largely derived from a rural idyll, yet the constructed form is sub-urban rather than sub-rural. Interestingly, the terms ‘suburban’ or ‘suburb’ do not feature in any of the promotional material sampled. This thesis deconstructs the material using both text and image. Whilst some meanings coexist between text and image there are noticeable differences which are consistent with studies using applied social semiotics (Hodge and Kress, 1988; Kress and van Leeuwen, 2006). This thesis provides a contribution to knowledge because no recent studies have been published on this area of study since Eyles (1987) and Gold and Gold (1990). A deconstruction of text and image has reduced the promotional material to eight superordinate headings that reflect the importance of community, environment, family, heritage, financial incentives, lifestyle, location and design. The methodological approach developed in this thesis has the potential to be applied more widely to suburban developments in North America, Europe and Australia, which suggests that this research can contribute to a wider understanding of suburban form. This thesis widens the debate amongst policy makers, planners and government at both local and national level regarding the contemporary identity of the suburb. It defines what is being constructed today in preparation for tomorrow.
Supervisor: Lynch, Kenny ; Hall, Tim Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HF5410 Marketing ; HF5801 Advertising