The Construction of Suburban Residential Identity in Developers’ Promotional Material: with Specific Reference to North Swindon

Marvell, Alan D ORCID: 0000-0001-8363-0793 (2016) The Construction of Suburban Residential Identity in Developers’ Promotional Material: with Specific Reference to North Swindon. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

[img] Text
Marvell PhD _Redacted for signature only.pdf - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 1 January 9999. (3rd party copyright).
Available under License All Rights Reserved.

Download (6MB)


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.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Uncontrolled Keywords: Housing development, Advertising, Promotional material, Suburban residential development, United Kingdom, North Swindon
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business > HF5410 Marketing
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business > HF5801 Advertising
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Business, Computing and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2016 11:01
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2023 11:23

University Staff: Request a correction | Repository Editors: Update this record

University Of Gloucestershire

Bookmark and Share

Find Us On Social Media:

Social Media Icons Facebook Twitter Google+ YouTube Pinterest Linkedin

Other University Web Sites

University of Gloucestershire, The Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 2RH. Telephone +44 (0)844 8010001.