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IKEA-Town: the City and the Retail Destination

Part 1 Dissertation 2008
Victoria Simpson
University of Edinburgh Edinburgh UK
This study, inspired by a visit to Coventry whilst construction on the city's new IKEA store was underway, addresses the notion of place and identity in modernity with specfic reference to the new store itself. The development is the first of its kind in the UK and poses important questions about the effect of such a prolific and globally dominant brand upon the identity and stability of a place.

The intention of this dissertation is to establish how 'placefulness' and place identity are formed and how they may be undermined to the detriment of the city. Following a narrative-like sequence alluding to the process of visiting an IKEA store, this study considers the arrival of the global retail destination, how it may be recognised and catagorised, how the destination and place are consumed and, finally, what happens when it is 'time to leave'.

Ultimately, this dissertation suggests that retail destinations, and most particurlarly the unique variety that is the city-centre IKEA, engender practices and activities akin to a form of 'retail tourism', which serve to destabalise notions of place and inherently affect the formation of individual and collective place identity.

Victoria Simpson

This is an excellent and original dissertation, which takes something that hasn’t had scholarly scrutiny of this kind before and really thinks about it, rigorously but creatively mobilizing a wide range of theoretical texts. Equally importantly, the case study acts back upon the more general theoretical formulations, putting pressure upon them and suggesting some revisions. The structure of the dissertation, which plays upon the arrival and itinerary of the ‘tourist/consumers’ that visit IKEA, has been carefully considered and critically organized in light of the argumentation. Intelligent and telling use is made of the visual material included.

Dr Mark Dorrian
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