The International Handbook of Environmental Sociology, Second Edition
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The International Handbook of Environmental Sociology, Second Edition

Edited by Michael R. Redclift and Graham Woodgate

This thoroughly revised Handbook provides an assessment of the scope and content of environmental sociology, and sets out the intellectual and practical challenges posed by the urgent need for policy and action to address accelerating environmental change.
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Chapter 21: The Role of Place in the Margins of Space

David Manuel-Navarrete and Michael R. Redclift


David Manuel-Navarrete and Michael Redclift Introduction In this chapter we examine the continuing importance of the concept of ‘place’, the revival of interest in its fortunes, and extend the analysis to what at first appear to be ‘empty spaces’ – areas that once appeared at the geographical ‘margin’, but that have assumed increased importance in the era of globalization. After reviewing the recent literature on ‘place’, the chapter takes as a case study the Mexican Caribbean coast, and explores the way in which a sense of place is being actively confirmed within the discourses surrounding the rapid urbanization of this coast. In the conclusion we suggest some of the ways in which the concept might be further developed, indicating several routes into ‘place confirmation’ as a central idea, and its conceptual potential for environmental sociology. Before reviewing the extensive recent literature on place, it is worth reflecting on why the conceptualization of place played such a modest a role in the geographical canon until relatively recently. For such a key idea, place had not been well served by most texts before the 1990s. Subsequently it has provided a touchstone for some lively debate and has begun to attract dissenting voices – always evidence of vigour. The earlier limited attention given to place is illustrated by Cloke et al. (1991) in Approaching Human Geography, which has sections on Marxism, and Giddens’s structuration theory, but nothing on ‘place’. Similarly Holt-Jensen (1999), in a student’s guide to the discipline, devotes only two pages to a...

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