Recapturing place identification through community heritage marketing

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We are guided by the following research questions: How do community residents contribute to place marketing strategies that promote the heritage of their local area? How can community participation be encouraged and supported? We draw on an ethnographic study of adopted railway stations in Scotland. We use in-depth interviews, participant observation alongside visual and archival data. We present and discuss three themes: community involvement in heritage activities, facilitating community participation through Adopt a Station and benefits and place identification. Initiatives which empower residents should be prioritised to capitalise on their latent knowledge, skills and expertise. We suggest that bringing heritage outside the museum space into key places used by local residents will support the increased accessibility of heritage.
While there are often strong arguments in favour of local community involvement in place marketing, it is much less common to find successful reports of this working in practice. Research either questions the capabilities of local residents to make meaningful contributions or hints at a tokenistic form of involvement. We contribute by offering insight into successful heritage-based community activity. Unlike previous research which focuses on the economic impact of place marketing, we focus on place identification for local residents. We also observe how offering a sense of ownership and freedom allows community management of the heritage message to flourish.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1118-1136
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number7/8
Early online date11 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2016


  • place marketing
  • community
  • heritage marketing
  • community management


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