The spirit of sauna: legitimating the Finnish place brand

Jack S. Tillotson, Vito Tassiello, Alexandra S. Rome, Katariina Helaniemi
2020 Journal of Place Management and Development  
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate inhabitants of Finland and their continuing efforts to narrate a national identity within the constraints imposed by discursive meanings of Finnish culture through the experience of sauna. Design/methodology/approach Data collection comprised semi-structured interviews with Finnish local residents and entrepreneurs; these were supplemented with secondary data including books, articles, advertisements and documents referencing sauna in the
more » ... xt of Finland. Findings The analysis and interpretation by the authors show that the symbolic resource of sauna constitutes the legitimation of Finnish nation branding discourses at three levels: regulative, normative and cultural-cognitive; we label these sauna governance, communal identity creation and mythmaking, respectively. Originality/value The research contribution reveals that nation branding discourses are also forms of legitimation work. Finnish nation branding discourses are interwoven with sauna as the symbolic resource of "Finnishness" and become conduits for the expression of discursive meanings. This demonstrates that institutional legitimacy is an intrinsic aspect of the ways place branding discourses can be used as a mode of governance (i.e. a policy instrument).
doi:10.1108/jpmd-12-2019-0109 fatcat:v5lvagh7hjc4nm7ze2r7syi4lu