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Name: Laura Parsons

PhD: Business and Law

Thesis Title: Valorising Hidden Culture: The Role of Authenticity, Ownership and Identity in Value Creation in the City of Leicester


Thesis Description:

Leicester is uniquely positioned in the UK as a ‘minority-majority’ city, bringing opportunities for observing diverse cultural forms in practice. While city leaders know that cultural activities contribute to the city’s economy, the wider role of culture in promoting social cohesion, improving quality of life, and developing connected communities has never been fully examined.

Hidden cultural forms may contribute greatly to the character and profile of the city, but this value is currently unarticulated. Working with Leicester City Council as a central feature of a Collaborative Doctoral Award this research, therefore, seeks to make a substantial ontological and empirical contribution to cultural discourse, building a conceptual framework of hidden culture in order to capture its value in the field, using Leicester as a cultural laboratory

Research questions concern the definition and conceptualisation of hidden culture, interrogate the relationship between hidden culture and value, and attempt to make sense of the spatial and relational aspects of hidden cultural forms: 

1) What is hidden culture? 

2) What is the relationship between hidden culture and value? 

3) What is the relationship between hidden culture and communities? 

The project will use food culture as a lens through which to examine hidden culture. Research will centre around exploratory case studies focused upon communities of practice using examples from Leicester and further afield to investigate the manifestations of hidden culture and their value. The primary method of research involves use of WhatsApp diaries, through which citizens can document food practices central to their communities, exposing sites of cohesion and conflict, and revealing deeper issues of authenticity, identity and ownership.


Supervisors and Institution(s): Dr Rachel Granger, De Montfort University

                                                     Dr Claire Lerpiniere, De Montfort University


Publications:   Granger, R.C. and Parsons, L. (2019) Defining Value, in Granger, R.C. (ed) Constructing and Negotiating Value in the Creative and Cultural Industries. Palgrave Macmillan


Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:

  • Member of Local Governance Research Centre, De Montfort Universty

Other Research Interests:

  • Cultural value
  • Symbolic, embodied and tacit meaning in cultural forms
  • Material culture
  • Food practices and social justice
  • Participatory visual and digital research methods
  • Phenomenological readings of cultural entities
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