Mixed Methodology Approach to Place Attachment and Consumption Behaviour: a Rural Town Perspective pp107-116
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
People are often attracted to unique natural environments, but what makes them continually return to these locations, especially when considerable time and effort are required to get there? This paper discusses the methods and findings of a research project aimed at identifying and exploring how visitors develop an attachment to the remote Ningaloo Marine Park in north‑western Australia. This Marine Park attracts a high percentage of repeat visitors (55%) and in order to determine the complex aspects contributing to this attachment, photo‑elicitation was employed. Photo‑elicitation is a qualitative technique where participants are asked to take photographs relating to the concept under study, and these are then used as triggers for underlying memories and feelings during a subsequent interview. For this study, participants were provided with digital cameras to take photographs of why they like visiting the Ningaloo Reef and what it was that made them return. Given this remote location and the inability to get photographs developed in reasonable timeframes, digital cameras were used instead of the disposable cameras more commonly used in this type of study. After a few days, the cameras were returned, and photographs uploaded on the researcher’s laptop computer with interviews conducted while viewing the photographs. Over a period of four weeks, during the peak visitor period, 30 participants took over 200 photographs and provided over 15 hours of interview recordings. Key aspects contributing to place attachment included the beauty of the physical environment, reef and marine based activities, social bonding with family and friends and enjoying a challenging though rewarding experience. By using a technique familiar to people on holidays, i.e. taking photographs, a method was invoked that people could engage with easily without the research impinging on their holiday experience.