Reading the visual landscape in rural Australia

Year: 2017

Author: Bartholomaeus, Pam

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Moving through a locality the backdrop reveals a picture, or enables a reading, of life and activities in that place, both historic and current. The Linguistic Landscape enables the viewer to make inferences about the character and image of a place or community, gaining insights into the social characteristics and ways in which the community is working to present itself. These signs also help to shape the place, giving it social and cultural meaning and displaying some of the important cultural and physical activities, ways in which the different age groups contribute and are catered for, the types of economic activity, and the services available. They provide insight into the values of the community, and ways in which people give and have given to the community both financially and through service.

This presentation will draw on a body of literature about Linguistic Landscape methodology. This will be the basis for discussion on what can be learnt about rural communities from analysis of signs and other visual displays. Insights will include some of the ways in which rural communities are seeking to survive and thrive in an era of increasing globalisation and continuing migration to urban centres. Analysis will also show government regulations are present, how sites offering services in rural communities are meeting external expectations about presentation, and how rural businesses are seeking to differentiate themselves from competitors and meet the needs of the local community.