The use of photo elicitation to explore the role of the main street in Kirkwall in sustaining cultural identity, community, and a sense of place.
Reid, Peter H.
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BAXTER, G., COOPER, K., GRAY, D., REID, P., VERGUNST, J. and WILLIAMS, D., 2015. The use of photo elicitation to explore the role of the main street in Kirkwall in sustaining cultural identity, community, and a sense of place. Aberdeen Business School Working Paper Series, 8 (1).
This paper explores the value of photo elicitation as a method for investigating the role played by small town main streets in Scottish island communities in sustaining cultural identity, community, and a sense of place. In particular, it critically evaluates the photo elicitation techniques used during a multidisciplinary pilot study, conducted in Kirkwall, Orkney, in 2010. A number of techniques were used, including a photographic exhibition, discussion groups, extended face-to-face interviews, and the creation of a special Facebook page. Throughout all approaches, participants were presented with old and current photographs of the main street, together with some novel ‘merged’ images combining both historical and contemporary views. These elicitation techniques proved successful in obtaining rich, detailed, qualitative data from 164 informants, who each shared their personal memories and perceptions of the social and cultural role of the Kirkwall main street. Indeed, the very process of identifying familiar buildings, landmarks and faces from photographs (both past and present) appeared to reinforce the participants’ cultural identity.