Coastal communities, cultural identity and connection with place

Plymouth carries the self-designated title of 'Britain’s Ocean City', yet repeated statements by leading researchers and stakeholders posit that upwards of 20% of schoolchildren in Plymouth haven’t even been to the sea. For a city that is effectively bounded on three sides by water, this is an incongruous yet highly unfortunate statistic that is borne out by those working within neighbourhoods and schools in Plymouth. This anecdotal evidence is reflective of an overarching disconnection between coastal communities' inhabitants and the places themselves. Underlying this are issues of economics (e.g., lost marine-related employment, notably in industry, but also limited household finances) and with it a changed sense of sociocultural identity owing to a loss of traditional industries and changes in primary and secondary education that have delimited engagement with place.

Professor Bob Brown's work, together with that of Zoe Latham, has explored the relationship between cultural identity and place and how changing socio-economic forces and shared and individual livelihoods have both negatively impacted upon this identity; concurrently considered is how cultural representations (e.g., rituals) have afforded resilience in the face of change. Dr Alun Morgan's research has both critiqued existing education practice and explored initiatives through which schoolchildren can both learn through place and foster a greater sense of connection with it.