Techniques in Human Geography

Techniques in Human Geography

Techniques in Human Geography

Techniques in Human Geography

Synopsis

The needs of human geography have produced a quite distinct menu of techniques. This book explores the range of techniques which are useful to human geographers, stressing the importance of using the techniques appropriate to the circumstances.

Excerpt

Like all serious academic disciplines, geography has gone through turbulent times in the post-war years. Since the ‘quantitative revolution’ of the 1960s there has been a constant process of change in methodology. Geographers have developed or, more usually, imported new ideas. After being applied, evaluated, and criticised, these have found their niche or faded into oblivion.

Naturally enough the procession of changes in methodology has been accompanied by the development of different ranges of techniques. The unusually wide range of subjects in which geographers are involved means that geography as a whole has an unparalleled range of techniques at its disposal, ranging from the analysis of pollen assemblages, stream velocity, and atmospheric pollution on the one hand to participant observation of communities and the decoding of cultural landscapes as texts on the other. Renaissance geographers at ease with all of these techniques do not exist. We are all necessarily specialists.

Techniques have tended to be seen as the province of physical geographers. As a veteran of many funding meetings this author can testify that most of the money usually goes to buy equipment used in the physical area. Velocity meters and flumes, microscopes, and satellite stations for remote sensing might appear on the agenda. Big expensive bids for equipment for human geography will not. At one time it seemed as though the technical support needed for a project in human geography was no more than a sharp pencil. If we have moved on, it is by substituting a personal computer for the pencil.

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