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Journal Article

Mixed Methodology Approach to Place Attachment and Consumption Behaviour: a Rural Town Perspective  pp107-116

Maria Ryan

© Dec 2009 Volume 7 Issue 1, ECRM 2009, Editor: Ann Brown, Joseph Azzopardi, Frank Bezzina, pp1 - 116

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Abstract

This paper discusses the use of both qualitative and quantitative methodologies in examining the influence people's attachment to their environment had on a number of consumption behaviours made by residents of a regional town in Western Australia. It discusses the concept of place attachment; its relationship with community attachment and the subsequent perceived value ascribed to living in the regional town of Narrogin, Western Australia. The use of a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods provided an opportunity to take a macro perspective in quantifying major place and community attachment influencers in the consumption decision‑making process, while understanding the meanings and sentiment behind these concepts from a micro perspective. In‑depth interviews were undertaken with thirty‑two residents of Narrogin. These interviews used a photo‑elicitation technique in which residents were given a camera and required to take photographs of important places, people and aspects of their lives. The photos were then used as prompts for personal interviews, as respondents discussed the meaning, sentiments and stories behind the chosen photographs. The interviews provided a richness and depth to our understanding of the value of respondents' attachment to Narrogin. The use of this technique as a forerunner to the quantitative phase is discussed and recommendations for future use are detailed. The second phase of data collection involved a telephone survey of residents from Narrogin and its surrounding area (Shire of Narrogin). This was designed to test a model and a number of hypotheses developed from the literature and the qualitative phase of the research. The model presented place and community attachment as separate, yet related constructs affecting the perceived value ascribed to living in Narrogin. Value was seen as a mediating construct between place and community attachment and consumption (shopping and staying in Narrogin) decisions. Shopping decisions included shopping for everyday grocery items, white goods, farm equipment and machinery and various services including educational, medical and aged care. Exploratory Factor Analysis and Structural Equation Modelling were used to examine the prescribed model. The results identified different attachment weightings for the town and shire communities. In general, the model was a better predictor for the shire residents than it was for town residents. The results suggest different types of management strategies are required for businesses providing for the needs of town and for shire residents based on respective residents different attachment weightings. The paper discusses the use of the photo‑elicitation technique in the in‑depth interview stage of the research and its contribution to the development of the model as presented in the quantitative phase. Operationalising the constructs in this study has been, and still is, challenging for researchers. This paper provides valuable insights into the operationalisation process by utilising the combined methodologies approach. Uncovering stories, meanings and emotions can be integrated with an objective epistemology of attachment.

 

Keywords: mixed methodology, photo-elicitation technique, structural equation modelling, place attachment, community attachment, rural sustainability

 

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