This paper reviews a research project in Kwinana, Western Australia. The project’s central question is this: If identity can be self-actualised how may this process be transformed from a singular experience to a community one?
Kwinana is a largely migrant community of 20,000 in the process of rapid urban change. It is a community in transition from an exclusively industrial town to a community that is being re-invented as part of the Perth metropolitan commuter belt. Despite the town having been historically disadvantaged by poverty, unemployment and inter-generational dependence upon welfare (Walker, 2000) there has been a strong sense of community identity. The town’s transition has led to a degree of community dislocation and fragmentation, and it is this that has prompted the project.
Community well-being implies institutions and cultural spaces (Ricoeur 1995) where the individual’s life world narrative (Habermas 1985) can be exchanged and shared. To this purpose the project plans in association with industry partners to encourage a networking of the wider Kwinana community to develop a shared social capital (Putnam 2000).
Digital technologies and the internet allow the rapid production and consumption of imagery by individuals that side steps the time consuming, traditional acquisition of representational skills. The project builds on Gauntlett’s research (2004) which suggests digitally produced graphics and photography also allow for an immediacy of expression for those unfamiliar with the processes of visual communication. The project team working with members of the Kwinana community in specific locations will develop a context in which visual digital technologies and an internet site enable the participants to share their personal narratives.
It is hoped this dialogue will assist in self-actualisation by revealing the ways in which social identity is understood by making personal narratives visible, and contribute to an increased sense of community.
• Giddens, A. (1991) Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and society in the late modern age Cambridge: Polity Press. • Gauntlett, D. (2004) Popular media and self identity Inaugural Professorial Lecture Bournemouth University 2nd June 2004. • Habermas, J. (1985) The Theory of Communicative Action, Volume1: Reason and the Rationalization of Society New York: Beacon Press. • Putnam, R. (2000) Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Touchstone. • Ricoeur, P. (1995) ‘Reflections on a New Ethos for Europe’, Philosophy and Social Criticism, 21(5/6). • Walker, E. (2000) ‘New Living in the Town of Kwinana – Suburban renewal in public housing’ PRRES Conference 2000.