City Region and Regionalism: A Geographical Contribution to Human Ecology

City Region and Regionalism: A Geographical Contribution to Human Ecology

City Region and Regionalism: A Geographical Contribution to Human Ecology

City Region and Regionalism: A Geographical Contribution to Human Ecology

Excerpt

This book is not about planning. It is concerned with certain aspects of the inherent spatial or geographical structure of society upon which planning must be based, and it insists that knowledge of the anatomy of society must precede the treatment of its defects. The theme of the book is the concept of the nucleated settlement, whether village, town or city or city sub-centre, as a focus of human activity and organization in the service of a surrounding tributary area. Such an area, through the welding force of its centre, acquires a degree of homogeneity which permits its being regarded as a natural social unit or community space-grouping. This space-grouping is a fundamental characteristic of society that has hitherto received no more than fleeting attention in this country, although its study has made great progress in recent years abroad.

This field of investigation is called "human ecology" by sociologists in the United States and, more commonly, "social morphology" on this side of the Atlantic. It is concerned with the structure of social groups and has two main aspects, the spatial or geographical aspect and the biological or demographic aspect. The field has recently been outlined and discussed by Professor M. Halbwachs in his Morphologie Sociale (Collection Armand Colin, 1938). It has obviously much ground in common with geography, sociology, economics and anthropology, and demands varied equipment in the individual worker and the co-operation of specialists. The neglect of such study in Britain has undoubtedly been due to the absence of such co-operation and of clear perception of the problems; as well as to a reluctance to accept it as a legitimate sphere of sociological, or, for that matter, geographical, research, and, furthermore, to the scepticism with which "case studies" and the cartographic approach to the study of economic and social conditions are still regarded.

The approach of this book is from the standpoint of the geographer. I am fully aware that some of its material and argument is marginal to geography, which, as I agree (and have tried to argue elsewhere), should be the study of places rather than of men. But it would be futile and sheer frustration to circumscribe study in this field, as in so many other problems . . .

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