Neolocalism: Definition and Examples

Neolocalism: Definition and ExamplesReviewed by Chris Drew (PhD)

This article was peer-reviewed and edited by Chris Drew (PhD). The review process on Helpful Professor involves having a PhD level expert fact check, edit, and contribute to articles. Reviewers ensure all content reflects expert academic consensus and is backed up with reference to academic studies. Dr. Drew has published over 20 academic articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education and holds a PhD in Education from ACU.

neolocalism examples definition characteristics

Neolocalism is a movement that aims to help local businesses retain and deepen the identities of specific destinations.

Neolocalism examples include microbreweries, harvest festivals, and local art festivals that aim to promote and celebrate local customs, traditions, artisans, and histories.

It is a response to globalization and the homogenization of the urban landscape. It is an active, conscious attempt to create a new sense of place (Schnell & Reese, 2014; Eberts, 2014; Holtkamp et al., 2016).

Neolocalism Definition

Neolocalism can be defined as:

“A deliberate seeking out of regional lore and local attachment by residents (new and old) as a delayed reaction to the destruction […] of traditional bonds to community and family” (Shortridge, 1996, p. 10).

Other researchers define it as “a conscious effort by businesses to foster a sense of place based on attributes of their community” (Cavaliere, 2021 & Holtkamp et al., 2016).

Common Characteristics

It is an attempt to reassert the distinctively local and the unique in response to a homogenized and universal landscape (Flack, 1997).

Neolocalism:

  1. involves the intentional use of localism for the development of tourism,
  2. engages with the locals to communicate a sense of place, and
  3. embraces the interconnectivity of all localities in shaping human understanding, interactions, and diplomacy (Ingram et al., 2020).

When applied to tourism, neolocalism refers to the tendency of tourists to seek more local and authentic experiences that enable a deeper engagement with a destination and its locals.

Neolocalism and Tourism Marketing

Neolocalism is often beneficial for local tourism because it promotes the distinctive and unique characteristics of a region.

It helps create a sense of place, uniqueness, and community.

Place identity, place branding, localized experiences, and sustainable tourism are becoming more and more important. The diversity and uniqueness of places are under the pressure of inadequate planning, corporate control, market forces, hegemony, and the unequal distribution of power (Ingram et al., 2020).

Such tourism, in principle, rejects the kind of tourism that is pursued by most tourists. It involves participation in and resistance to the dominant culture. It has the potential to combat top-down governance and corporate interests.

This in turn raises the importance of neolocalism: an antidote to placelessness and the homogenization of places brought by globalization (Kladou, 2022).

Neolocal tourism affects aspects of festivals, arts, transportation, governance, migration, identity, food, agritourism, and heritage (Cavaliere, 2021).

Examples of neolocal approaches include:

  1. A strategy for addressing tourism issues in rural Iceland in terms of place-making, cultural revitalization, and conservation of local wildlife;
  2. Transportation as a conduit for biocultural conservation in Bangkok;
  3. The use of geography and place in the branding American microbreweries.

Neolocalism Examples

  • Craft Brewing (Microbreweries): Craft breweries highlight place, story, history, rootedness, and authenticity in their marketing (Honkaniemi et al., 2021).
  • Local Harvest Festivals: The local harvest festival of Öland, Sweden revives old farming traditions and supports local cuisine, innovative culinary products, and rural culture. Such festivals can create and strengthen interactional communities and boost community belonging through participation (Kladou, 2022).
  • Revival of Traditional Practices: The revival of social institutions and associational practices in Saen Saeb Khlong in Bangkok, Thailand, to counteract the effects of modernization and emphasize the importance of sustainable future developments (Ingram et al., 2020).
  • Revival of Local Names: The use of local names and images in marketing, especially in colonized cultures where Indigenous names are re-used, can help promote authentic tourism experiences.
  • Localized Product Marketing: The use of local names and images in the labeling of local products. For example, “Missouri’s own…” or “Wines of the region…”
  • Homestay Marketing: The “Don’t Go There, Live There” campaign by Airbnb is an example of advertising which tried to cater to the tendency of rejecting mass tourism in favor of deeper engagement with a different culture (Mody & Koslowsky, 2019).
  • BnB Guidebooks: These guidebooks offer collections of the best places in every city is marketed as a way to help tourists discover a city according to the standards of the locals. This type of marketing caters to the neolocalist tendency to seek a deeper connection with an unfamiliar place (Mody & Koslowsky, 2019).
  • Local Travel Blogs: Articles with titles such as “40 Paris Hidden Gems You’ll Love to Discover,” aim to revive the unique and distinctive characteristics of a place that have been lost due to homogenization.

Neolocalism Case Studies

1. The Saw Mill River Brewery in New York

The brewers of Saw Mill River Brewery in New York wanted to come up with beer names. Instead of looking at common associations, they delved into their local history to come up with names.

A public relations firm the brewery hired suggested “limber-related names” which was not what the company was looking for.

Instead, they came up with names that reflected local stories: stories unknown to outsiders but familiar to locals.

The sense of belonging was thereby conveyed through the marketing of beer. Rooted names and images produce a sense of belonging for the tourist and a sense of place for the insider (Watson, 2016, p. 24).

2. The Lismore Friendship Festival in Australia

The Lismore Friendship Festival in Australia was first devised when the need to hold an event on the day after the Lismore Lantern Parade to attract visitors to stay overnight in the city was acknowledged.

It seeks to strengthen Lismore’s relationship with Conegliano & Vittorio Veneto cities in Italy.

The event emphasizes a sense of place and the cultural life of the community.

It is, therefore, an example of a neolocal festival that encourages participation, reciprocity, and generosity through a process of intergenerational engagement in a celebration of multiculturalism (Kladou, 2022).

3. The Farm-Based Design Company Myssyfarmi

The Finnish, farm-based design company Myssyfarmi (“Wooly Cap Farm”) employs rural imagery and meanings in its marketing.

Using ironic and stereotypically negative marketing, the products are called “not cool but warm” (Honkaniemi et al., 2021).

Marketing that emphasizes rural history and imagery can be seen as influenced by neolocalism.

4. Öland’s Harvest Festival (Ölands Skördefest)

Öland’s Harvest Festival (Ölands Skördefest) is a popular autumn festival in Sweden.

It has been celebrated since 1997 and revives the ancient farmer’s tradition of celebrating the end of the growing season.

The festival aims to increase interest in Öland for tourists and emphasizes a sense of place and local identity. It exhibits Sweden’s cuisine and introduces innovative food products.

5. Canadian Microbreweries

Beginning in the 1980s, microbreweries oriented towards local markets have become more and more common in Canada.

These microbreweries, in contrast to national breweries, use strategies of neolocalism: they emphasize geography, a sense of place, and local traditions in their branding and marketing (Eberts, 2014).

Local breweries embrace the “cool” and “hipster” aesthetic and ensure their tap rooms feel unique and anti-corporate in order to appeal to potential clientele. If a brewery grows too big or begins selling to too broad an audience, it will often lose its appeal to locals.

Related concept: Glocalization

Conclusion

Neolocalism is “a conscious effort by businesses to foster a sense of place based on attributes of their community” (Cavaliere, 2021 & Holtkamp et al., 2016).

It is an active and conscious response to the homogenization of places and loss of uniqueness.

As a movement, it seeks to help local businesses retain and deepen local identities.

References

Buratti, J., & Hagelman, R. (2021). A geographic framework for assessing neolocalism: The case of Texas cider production. Journal of Cultural Geography, 38(3), 399–433. https://doi.org/10.1080/08873631.2021.1951004

Eberts, D. (2014). Neolocalism and the branding and marketing of place by Canadian microbreweries. In The geography of beer: Regions, environment, and societies, ed. M. Patterson and N. Hoalst-Pullen, 189–99. New York: Springer Verlag.

Flack, W. (1997). American Microbreweries and Neolocalism: “Ale-ing” for a Sense of Place. Journal of Cultural Geography, 16(2), 37–53. https://doi.org/10.1080/08873639709478336

Holtkamp, C., Shelton, T., Daly, G., Hiner, C. C., & Hagelman, R. R. (2016). Assessing Neolocalism in Microbreweries. Papers in Applied Geography, 2(1), 66–78. https://doi.org/10.1080/23754931.2015.1114514

Honkaniemi, T., Syrjälä, H., Lundström, N., & Rajala, A. (2021). Neolocalism and Beyond––Sexing Up Rural Places*. Rural Sociology, 86(2), 326–356. https://doi.org/10.1111/ruso.12368

Ingram, L., Slocum, S. L., & Cavaliere, C. (2020). Neolocalism and Tourism: Understanding a Global Movement. Goodfellow Publishers Limited.

Kladou, S. (2022). Book review of Ingra L. Slocum, S. and Cavaliere, C. (eds.) (2020). Neolocalism and Tourism: Understanding a Global Movement, ISBN-13: 978-1-911-63560-4, Oxford, UK: Goodfellow Publishers. European Journal of Tourism Research 30, 3020.

Mody, M., & Koslowsky, K. (2019). Panacea or peril? The implications of Neolocalism as a more intrusive form of tourism. Boston University School of Hospitality Administration.

neolocalism – Dr. Christina T. Cavaliere. (2021). Retrieved November 25, 2022, from http://sites.warnercnr.colostate.edu/christinacavaliere/tag/neolocalism/

Schnell, S. M. & Reese, J. F. (2003). Microbreweries as tools of local identity. Journal of Cultural Geography, 21(1): 45-69.

Schnell, S. M. & Reese, J. F. (2014). Microbreweries, place, and identity in the United States. In Patterson, M. & Hoalst-Pullen, N. The geography of beer: Regions, environment, and societies. Springer Verlag.

Schnell, S. M. (2011). The local traveler: Farming, food, and place in state and provincial tourism guides, 1993–2008. Journal of Cultural Geography, 28(2): 281–309.

Shortridge, B. G. & Shortridge, J. R. (1998). The taste of American place. Rowman and Littlefield.

Shortridge, J. R. (1996). Keeping Tabs on Kansas: Reflections on Regionally Based Field Study. In Journal of Cultural Geography. Routledge. Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 5–16.

Watson, A. A. (2016). Neolocalism and Activating the Urban Landscape: Economics, Social Networks and Creation of Place. [Doctoral Dissertation, Florida Atlantic University].

Zelinsky W. (2011). Not yet a placeless land: Tracking an evolving American geography. University of Massachusetts Press.

Tio Gabunia is an academic writer and architect based in Tbilisi. He has studied architecture, design, and urban planning at the Georgian Technical University and the University of Lisbon. He has worked in these fields in Georgia, Portugal, and France. Most of Tio’s writings concern philosophy. Other writings include architecture, sociology, urban planning, and economics.

 | Website

This article was peer-reviewed and edited by Chris Drew (PhD). The review process on Helpful Professor involves having a PhD level expert fact check, edit, and contribute to articles. Reviewers ensure all content reflects expert academic consensus and is backed up with reference to academic studies. Dr. Drew has published over 20 academic articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education and holds a PhD in Education from ACU.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *