Geography

Conceptual models

Conceptual Model Geography

A conceptual model is an abstract representation designed to articulate the processes operating in a system of interest. A conceptual model may take narrative form and use words to describe the system at hand, but with their long spatial science tradition, geographers have frequently drawn on geometry and graphical forms of visual representation to render their conceptual models. For instance, Figure 12.1 provides a schematic diagram of the physical processes involved in maintaining the earth's...

Conclusion

In our example we demonstrate that scientific discourses of development - pervasive in the media, popular culture, scholarship and indeed classrooms - have roots in dominant explanations of how economic development 'should' proceed, and how it is currently lacking supposedly threatening the environment, food supply, etc. in the Global South. We have also demonstrated that these discourses are remarkably tenacious and continue to persist because they are bolstered by a series of material and...

Mathematical models

Mathematical models use formal equations to represent the relationships among system components, their various state conditions, and rates of change to them. Such models can range from simple equations to complex software codes applying many interlinked equations to calculate spatially explicit results dynamically over discrete time steps. It is possible to distinguish two broad approaches to mathematical modelling -empirical-statistical and deductive-deterministic - but in practice most large...

Geography as a Positivist Science

Popper Falsification

Let us now discuss the question of geography's scientific status in earnest, adding substance to the sketch provided above. For the term 'science' has not just been a rhetorical weapon used by geographers it has also described specific ways of investigating reality. It is these ways I want now to explain in this and the next two sections before moving on to an assessment of geography's scientific credentials. I suggested above that the first substantive attempt to make geography a science was a...

David Demeritt and John Wainwright

From forecasting the weather to the economy, models have become ubiquitous, if little-noticed, features of modern life. Models of various sorts are used to predict and thereby manage everything from whether it's likely to rain on your picnic to the responses of consumers to changes in interest rates. In turn, those practical applications depend upon and help to inform the development and use of models in the context of pure research. Modelling has arguably become the most widespread and...

World Knowledge and Discipline

Geographic Cube Brian Berry

Geographers are fond of saying that what 'ties the discipline together' is an attention to phenomena insofar as they are distributed in space. At the same time, and like other scholars, geographers tend to see their discipline as divided into subdisciplines. There is economic geography, bio-geography, and so on. Here a similar strategy is invoked it is held that economic geography concerns spatial aspects of economic phenomena, that biogeography concerns spatial aspects of living things, and so...

Introduction

Douglas Sherman, Alisdair Rogers and Noel Castree Upper-level undergraduates and postgraduates taking geography degrees are usually required to take a course unit on the history, nature and philosophy of their subject. For many undergraduates it is a unit to be endured rather than enjoyed. For many postgraduates, by contrast, it is an important part of their journey to becoming professional geographers. Whether you're reading these words because you have to or because you want to, we hope that...

Geography since The Turn to Process

Near the middle of the twentieth century, a sea change took place throughout geography. The initial hallmark of this shift was an adoption of the 'scientific method', particularly the method associated with logical empiricism, which at this time was reaching its zenith of influence throughout science. Approaches to geographical analysis shifted from largely descriptive to largely quantitative in both human and physical geography, bringing the two sides of the discipline closer together. Since...

Questions Theories and the Challenges of Fieldwork

In short, simple curiosity about the world compels many geographers to head to the field. But landscapes do not always deliver their mysteries in any transparent fashion. And, as interpreters of landscapes, we always employ some set of cognitive schemes to make sense of what we are witnessing. The processes of probing and interpreting places are thus complicated and time-consuming. How does one channel one's innate curiosity into the pursuit and analysis of data that enable one to say something...

Relations as Vehicles for Understanding Planning from the Ground Up in Africa Garth Myers

When I count the days, it becomes apparent that I have spent more than two of the last dozen years of my life 'in the field'. What it means, to me, to be in the field is that the whole of daily life becomes a vehicle for learning. The experience of sharing life with people in Zanzibar, Lilongwe, or Lusaka helps inform my understanding of urban processes and the various urban planning projects I have been studying over these years of fieldwork. Edward Said...

Map Making and Myth Making A Classic Example of Map

One of my first recollections of being interested in maps and mapping was at school when I watched a TV series about Victorian London. The series was concerned with the social conditions of London and one programme was about the frequent cholera epidemics of the mid-nineteenth century. It was this programme that grabbed my attention since it told a very interesting story of how the link was made between cholera and dirty drinking water by the use of a map. At the time, it was generally accepted...

Conclusion Newtons Apple

This chapter has been almost entirely about physical geography. This will disappoint the editors, who were, no doubt, hoping for a more balanced assessment of the topic. But like the cobbler sticking to his last, it seemed safer for me to keep to the world I know, rather than venturing into someone else's. My world is one of water and soil. That is not to say that I'm not interested in people or in how my scientific knowledge can be used to better people's lives - far from it - but in research...

Conclusio Of Geography On Global Warming

Geography has a long history of usefulness, in times of peace and war, in contexts of imperialism and development. Looking back, not all would agree that these interventions have been to the obvious betterment of humanity. Harvey 1974 suggests that a legacy of racism, imperialism, and ethnocentrism leaves Geography with more to be ashamed of than proud of. The involvement of geographers with public policy has not, however, been either constant or uncomplicated, as Graf's account of American...

Science Reflexivity and Critique

A series of core values connect spatial science and critical human geography, including commitment to open inquiry, continual questioning, and reflexivity. These values serve as points of continuity across the discipline of human geographic research, uniting all geographers who seek to create rigorous understandings of the social world. Of these common values, we argue that reflexivity is key, because the principle of open inquiry ultimately rests on constant interrogation of our questions and...

An Example Situating Scientific Development

Our aim is to problematize the science beyond-science debate within geography and to argue that critical analyses of the conditions of knowledge production must be a fundamental element of advancing scientific understanding. We draw here on an example from development studies, to illustrate the importance of understanding knowledge as situated -situated in history, geography and social relations of difference and power. This choice reflects both our research interests and the process by which...

Conclusion Does Fragmentation Matter

Contemporary academic disciplines are necessarily fragmented into specialist sub-disciplines and fields without it, scientific progress would be substantially hindered. Fragmentation can create problems, however, since it can readily stimulate centrifugal forces that are much stronger than any countering centripetal forces. Individual academics - in our case, geographers - are drawn to work in small communities, many of which are relatively isolated from other communities within their...

Maureen Hickey and Vicky Lawson

F rom its modern foundations, geography has designated itself a science, and it prospers less when this role diminishes. A real science is able to accept even the shameful, dirty stories of its beginning. Foucault, 1988, quoted in Kirby, 1994 300 As the title of this chapter indicates, there is an ongoing struggle over legitimate knowledge within human geography, centred around what many in the discipline identify as a science beyond-science binary. While we do not deny that there are...

Noel Castree

If you're reading these words you're almost certainly a student studying degree-level geography in an English-speaking country. This chapter is probably on a reading list for a course you're taking on the nature of contemporary geography. Whether you're an undergraduate or a Master's student, the course is doubtless a compulsory part of your degree. You may not like this fact. Unless you're intending to go on to become a university geographer yourself, you may well think that the course is both...

The Degree Business Geography as a Commodity

Academic disciplines have never been insulated from wider governmental, economic or cultural forces. As David Harvey 1996 95 famously put it, geography 'cannot be understood independently of the . . . societies in which it is embedded'. The 'nature' of geography is thus determined not only by internal struggles within the discipline - like those between the aforementioned Gillian Rose and her antagonists - but also by external influences. The geographer Allen Scott 1982 was among the first to...

On Metatheory

Like members of other disciplines, geographers have routinely felt it necessary to define their discipline, and to differentiate it from others but in the 1960s this process of definition became increasingly one of redefinition, as the question 'What is geography ' seemed to take on a new urgency. For some time a standard answer had been that geography was the study of the way in which the earth is divided into different regions Hartshorne, 1939 . But a new generation of geographers claimed...

Getting Back Together or Splitting Up

Let us assume that human and physical geography are in some way divided. If so, there would appear to be at least three ways forward integration or perhaps re-integration splitting up or some kind of uneasy co-existence. What are the arguments in favour of re-uniting the two halves of geography, how might this best be achieved and are there any signs of this happening Three types of argument for re-unification have been presented in recent literature. The heritage argument claims that as...

Conclusion Rethinking Theory

Theory provides a framework for our thinking but, even in the most positivist account of science, it is not something fixed and immovable. Indeed, the postmodern view of theorizing as a continuous process emphasizes the transitory, as well as situated, nature of theory. Even our best-regarded theories are only provisionally warranted and there is always the possibility that once-abandoned theories may influence future theorizing. Theories are imaginaries, creations of the human imagination, and...

Post Positivist Science and its Alternatives

There's much more that could be said about the strengths of spatial science research. Whether we adopt a normative or a descriptive stance, the criticisms made in the previous section amount to an internal evaluation of spatial science. An internal critique judges something according to its own standards and criteria, rather than those external to it. An external critique, by contrast, judges a research approach according to alternative standards and criteria. In human geography, such a...