Stein Rokkan’s Conceptual Map of Europe


The conceptual map of Europe, developed by Stein Rokkan in the 1970s, was a recognized achievement in political science and social sciences of that time. At the same time, its potential and effectiveness remain in demand both in research and in applied political science. The starting point for a conceptual mapping is, of course, the map in the version and configuration which was fixed by Stein Rokkan himself, and which included the concepts of political, social and spatial demarcation; territoriality used as a synonym for geographical or social affiliation, as well as the concept of centre-peripheral polarity. The article considers the limitations laid down by Rokkan for the cognitive use of the map, as well as its contextual limitations at the end of the 1970s – an era of pivotal changes in European and world politics. However, the limitations often turn into a theoretical framework and expand the cognitive horizons and depths of the conceptual mapping, which Rokkan started but left unfinished. Then, the article studies the changes in the map from the 1970s to the present moment taking into consideration the expansion of its spatial coverage. The article continues with the expansion of temporal and spatial horizons into the depths of the past. Finally, the article discusses the possibility of contour projections into the present and future, basing on an extended range of mapping. It pays particular attention to the Intermarium between Baltic and Black seas, which could fasten together the two parts of the double supercivilization, which incorporates Western Europe and Northern Eurasia. The authors conclude that in the current circumstances the role of conceptual mapping is not limited to enable understanding, but also to assist forecasting and active shaping of spatial structures.


conceptual map; city belt; limitrophe; center-peripheral polarity; European integration; Intermarium.

Authors: Mikhail Ilyin, Anna Barsukova

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