In the final part of the thesis the Funnel Beaker Culture in Mälardalen and Bergslagen is compared to other northern border regions of the TRB complex: western Central Sweden, South-eastern Norway (Østlandet), South-western Norway (Vestlandet) and Pomerania and Chelmno in northern Poland. While the archaeological material from each of these areas displays regional traits, to an extent they also share a common repertoire with the reoccurring artefact types: funnel beakers, polygonal battle-axes, four-sided polished working axes, and subsistence practices that to a larger (Poland) or smaller (Vestlandet) degree included agricultural practices. All these regions bordered on lands where groups of people lived that did not share the cultural practices of their TRB neighbours and at least in Scandinavia did not practice cultivation nor cattle herding.
The Early Neolithic archaeological material found in the area north of the Funnel Beaker Culture in Scandinavia can be classified as Early Neolithic Slate Culture, remains from aceramic hunter-gatherers named after the role slate played in the lithic industry. In north-easternmost Sweden the Slate Culture bordered on the Comb Ware Culture (phase II) with a further distribution eastwards in Finland and neighbouring parts of Russia and Estonia. While the people of the Slate Culture were hunter-gatherers without pottery, the people of the Comb Ware Culture were hunter-gatherers with pottery, and by this time ceramics had been in use for more than 1000 years by the hunter-gatherers of Finland. The northern local groups of the Funnel Beaker Culture in Poland lived close to the Neman, Zedmar and Narva Cultures of north-eastern Poland, Kaliningrad, Lithuania, Latvia and Belorussia. These groups are normally considered hunter-gatherers in the archaeological literature, but occasional bones from domesticated animals are found at least at Zedmar sites, indicating that some domesticates were adopted or circulated to the north of the Funnel Beaker Culture in the region east of the Baltic Sea. Rather than a border between farmers and hunter-gatherers, the northern limit of the TRB in Poland may be considered a border between groups with different traditions and contrasting cultural practices.
In the border zones between such traditions, in encounters with people from different cultural contexts, unconscious knowledge and dispositions were made conscious. The cultural specifics in one's own way of life were made visible, insights that might have played a role to form an identification with a social context that went beyond the local. In such a process elements like shared subsistence practices, shared craft traditions and shared material culture may have been given meaning in the construction of group identity. The realisation that some people lived by different lifestyles and practised other cultural practices may have contributed to articulate the categories "us" and "them", identities that can be understood as examples of ethnicity. Because it is dependent on the specific circumstances of the encounter, such an identity is flexible; the same individual may identify differently in different situations. Still it is not a random identification, rather an identification where history, culture and circumstances all contribute to forming a negotiable cultural identity.