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In the 1990s, under the perception of increasing transformations brought about by globalisation, scholars started investigating what happened to the notion of place. Among others, the views of Manuel Castells, Robert Sack and Doreen Massey contributed to construct an opposition between a parochial, bounded, and reactionary notion of place versus a global, unbounded, and relation one. This latter view, under the label of ‘progressive sense of place’, has since become a dominant paradigm in geography. This paper aims to ground these theoretical arguments in relation to how people understand place today. Qualitative empirical information collected in four different regional contexts in Western Europe confirms the discursive existence of the above opposition. Yet, it also challenges the ways in which notions of thickness/thinness and boundedness/unboundedness relate to the regressive or progressive character of place.

Keywords: Place; Western Europe; bound/unbound; globalisation; progressive; thick/thin

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Birmingham – GEES, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, United Kingdom., Email:

Publication date: 2011-07-01

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