GGR124H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Urban Design, Determinism, Human Behavior

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10 Feb 2013
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Lecture 2
Understanding “Urban Geography” I
Understand and interpret the distribution of towns and cities
Account for the difference mad similarities between them and within them
neighborhoods are constantly changing and evolving (Yorkville , $100 000
income, minimum just to shop or eat there, 1960 it was the most bohemian
neighborhood in the city, center of revolution of student change )
Two Key Themes
o Spatial distribution of town and cities- system of cities (where are
they located , why are they there, how did they get like that )
o Internal structure of the city city as a system (how are they linked to
one another, housing, transportation, planning, social system this
shows us that none of theses systems run alone they are rely on each
Discipline is eclectic for every discipline there s a urban component
Discipline of Urban Geography is :
o Descriptive recognition and description of the urban areas internal
structure patterns and processes (doesn’t tell you any more than
what’s there)
o Interpretive examining how people understand and react to these
patterns (your answering the “so what” )
o Explanatory looks for the origins of these patterns and processes
(“what does it mean?”)
Approaches to Urban Geography
o Dominant up to the mid 20th Century
o Relationship between people and their environment explains how
cities have evolved
o Site and situation studies i.e. Physical characteristics determine urban
development how does the location of the city play a role in the
social dynamics of the area
o Urban Morphology how urban areas have grown and changed over
time (physical layout of the streets, help understand how the city has
o Recent work concentrated on the production, form, and design of
urban areas
o General paradigm shift in the 1950s
o Human behavior is determined or influenced by scientific and
universal laws- looking at the models of land use
o How scientific laws produced observable patterns of urban activity or
form ‘on-the-ground’
o Two broad approaches Ecological, and Neo-classical
Human Behavior is based on ecological principles
Most powerful groups obtain the most advantageous place in a given space
the power people got control of the area , they lived on the best land they
have a greater income
Driving force was rationality
Homo-Economicus or economic rationality of human behavior
Cost- minimization or benefits-maximization
Behavioral And Humanistic
Emerged in the 1970s as a reaction to scientific determinism failed to
include human decision making, not everyone is rational
o Behavioral
Focused on decision making, on human behavior but in a
‘model like way … still seeking a set of generalization
o Humanistic
Deeply subjective and complex relationships between
individuals and groups, and the places the exist
Techniques drawn from the Humanities e.g. use of film,
writing, paintings, etc. (how is the city represented in art work
, and what does that tell you about the relationships people
may have in the urban area )
Broad approach in the social sciences
Importance of social, economic and political structures in society
Derived from the writing of Marx
Approach was dominant in the 1970s and beyond mainly in response to
social problems emerging in urban areas (esp. in the US)
Criticized because of the emphasis on “class” –viewed as too limiting (people
are actually organized on cultural background, social lines, sexual orientation
… so looking at only class isn’t enough)
Emerged in the late 8os and early 90s
Approach the rejects notion that one perspective should hold sway
Emphasizes individuals differences or multiple perspectives help us
understand the urban area
Most visible is often seen in urban design ex. Chicago, Toronto, Berlin
Criticism is that there is an endless range of possible interpretations for the
city you cant define a policy that fits ALL people
Scales of Analysis in Urban Geography
World System of Cities (cities internationally, ex.via economy, decision made in one
city may effect what’s happening in other cities ( decision made in Detroit about
making the camero in Oshawa, people are losing their jobs in oshwa )) > National
City System (east- west, or north-south linkage) > Region > City > Neighborhood
The Origin of Cities
How/why did non-agricultural settlements arise?
How & why did those settlements become geographically concentrated?
How & why do some of these urban settlements grow to become larger than
other settlements?
Two Key Concepts
To understand the development of cities
Social Surplus
o Production of basic goods over and above what is needed for
subsistence agriculture view what you produce is what you eat and
what you consume, they may be some reason you may produce more
than you need. So you start trading it with others, you start to create a
linkage with some one else (social)
o Created trade and specialization (with the specialization you get
groups emerging , so the specialization create linkages between these
individual specialist’s creating a town )
o Concentration of activities, people, networks of relationships, in space
What Generates the Social Surplus?
New technology (we’re talking about irrigation, so farming production
increased, creating surpluses)
Environmental Changes (increases in rain fall, changing the physical
Change in social organization (slavery, zero paid workers that farm the fields
for you)