Questionnaires in Heritage Management: Part 1

By Janine McEgan

This is part 1 in a series of 3 posts relating to Janine’s Directed Studies with the City of Marion. See Janine’s other posts here.

The first step in researching questionnaires for heritage management was to locate literature about community consultation that had been undertaken. These examples were primarily found through the Flinders library databases. Some books about general heritage management contained references to such studies also.

The general consensus among all authors was the need to consult the public and use the information provided to bridge the gap between the professional opinion of what constitutes heritage and that of the general public. One article by Turnpenny (2004:296) suggested that criteria by which heritage is assessed are major stumbling blocks. Social values are not held in high priority, and as such the community finds the relevance of heritage to be lacking among them. So it is imperative that values of feeling and belief and taken into consideration when assessing heritage, not just aesthetic and historic values which tend to dominate.

Questionnaires have been conducted by different sections of the heritage management profession, ranging from local government, tourism ventures through to museums. All aim to understand what the community consider important to them, and the ideas put forward by the public can be utilised and implemented such that better use of use and management can occur. The results from the surveys give insights into what the public believe to be important with regard to heritage, with a common theme being that heritage gives a ‘sense of identity’ to the people.

Research by McKercher found that an attachment to a heritage attraction in the tourism  setting may be an emotional response, not necessarily associated with the heritage worth to the community, but rather one of economic benefits (McKercher  2001;42). In the case of the paddlesteamer about which the public were surveyed the loss of the attraction would be a further blow to an already economically depressed rural community, but not one of heritage interest.

So ends part 2 of this story. Next time I will take you on the journey of what constitutes a worthwhile questionnaire and how they are best distributed to the parties from whom the data is to be obtained.

References:

McKercher, B. 2001 Attitudes to a Non-viable Community-owned Heritage Tourist Attraction, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 9(1): 29-43.

Turnpenny, M. 2004 Cultural Heritage, an Ill-defined Concept? A Call for Joined-up Policy, International Journal of Heritage Studies, 10(3): 295-307.

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