The Political Dimension of Place Branding

University dissertation from Stockholm : Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University

Abstract: Place branding is commonly understood as the application of marketing and commercial ideas, strategies, measurements and logic to the realm of places such as cities, regions and nations. Nevertheless, place branding is also understood as the locus where political activities – imbued with political impact and political effects – appear and affect the soft and hard infrastructures of urban agglomeration and other spatial environments. In this regard, by performing an analysis that helps unpack the multiple characters and impacts of political structures and processes in relation to place branding activities, the present dissertation aims to offer a conceptualization of the political dimension of place branding. By drawing on the critical assessment of the academic literature on place branding and on a series of studies about the branding processes in the region of Romagna and in the Greater Stockholm, the present dissertation further specifies an alternative conceptual framework (i.e. ecological politics) that suggests how place branding should be seen an empirical and theoretical political apparatus that acts, in praxis, based on an emerging, multifaceted and spatio-temporal enfolding of politics. More specifically, the ecological politics of place branding is characterized by four main aspects: the unfolding of a biopolitical ecology around place-branding practices; the ideological appropriation of place-branding processes; the positioning through politicized actions between the interest groups; and finally place-branding as a process of policy-intervention. Finally, on more general level, the present dissertation, by recognizing the political activities and efforts of place branding as crucial elements to be analyzed, makes the case for a more explicit, complex and manifold political analysis of the political dimension of place branding, which allows attention to be given to the impact that branding processes, practices and activities have on cities, regions and nations