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GEOG 2UI3 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Urban Geography, Urban Land, Fertile Crescent

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Robert Wilton
Study Guide

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Geography 2UI3 Midterm Study Notes (Chapters 1-4 in textbook)
Chapter One – Urbanization and Urban Geography
- cities are products of many forces; engines of economic development and centers of
cultural innovation, social transformation and political change
- urban areas vary from employment opportunities to patterns of land use in
neighborhoods, racial composition in metropolitan regions and social behaviour in urban
The Study of Urban Geography
- urban geography focused on the distinctiveness of individual places (at the scale of
cities, towns or particular neighborhoods) and the regularities within and between urban
areas in terms of spatial relationships between people and their environment
- think about The Heidelberg Project; distinctiveness of it reflects the kind of local
variability that is possible within cities
- when referring to “environment” we are also referring to the built environment,
economic environment and the social environment, not just the natural
- questions to “common” questions urban geographers ask can be found in the wider
context of economic, social and political life
- interdisciplinary approach
Space, Territoriality, Distance and Place
- space is a medium in which economic, social, political and historical processes are
- is also a factor that influences patterns of urban development and the nature of
relationships between social groups
- legal boundaries are important to space because it affects the dynamics of cities in
several ways
- i.e. establishment of municipal boundaries restricts a citys capacity to raise
revenue in its own territory, electoral boundaries affect where people vote and the
outcome of local elections and politics
- territoriality is tendency for particular groups (gangs, ethnicities) to establish some sort
of control/dominance/exclusivity within a localized area
- group territoriality depends using space as a focus and symbol of group
membership/identity as means of regulation social interaction
- creates distinctive spatial setting within cities; influences individual and group
behaviour (molds the attitude and behaviour of others in the area)
- distance affects the behaviour of producers and consumers of all goods and services;
influences patterns of social interaction and the shape and extent of social networks
- physical accessibility to opportunities and to amenities (i.e. schools, jobs, stores,
parks and hospitals) are important to determining the local quality of life
- place concerns itself with areal differentiation and distinction of regions;
- sense of place is important because it can influence individuals decisions: to live
where they live, where to locate an office/factory, whether to hire someone from a
particular place or whether to walk alone in a certain area of town
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Approaches to Urban Geography
- urban geography has been influenced by changing social values; as urban problems
have grown, attitudes towards research in urban geography have become more flexible
- urban geography research involves more active engagement with communities,
private companies and the government
- i.e. urban geographers are consulted on optimal political redistricting (redrawing
boundaries of local voting districts)
- changes in cities themselves and in the nature of urbanization have contributed to the
evolution to approaches in urban geography
- awareness of changes in cities = looking more closely at changes = new topics
for study have emerged
1.) Settlement Geography
- influenced by environmental determinism (i.e. the physical environment shapes human
- two related interests: process of urbanization and internal morphology of
- i.e. the growth of Pittsburgh as steel town could be interpreted spatially, so
geographers looked at the availability of local sources of coal, iron and steel
products that benefited local businesspeople and workers
- i.e. Hamilton as a steel city because the presence of the lake can be seen as a
way of transportation for materials and the elongated edges of the escarpment
2.) Spatial Analysis of Cities
- based on the philosophy and methodology of positivism that had been developed in the
natural sciences; philosophy was founded on the principle verification of facts and
relationships through scientific methods
- a.k.a. laws established through collection of data and testing; “quantitative
- urban geography is the science of urban spatial organization and spatial
relationships, and as a science, is focused on the construction of testable models
- two main interests: analysis of urban systems and patterns of settlement and the
internal structure of cities
- i.e. Pittsburgh’s urban geography from this approach would be an attempt to
quantify the relationship between neighborhood social status and proximity to the
steel mills (social status increases with distance from the steel mills)
- i.e. in Hamilton property values increase when you move away from steel mills
3.) Behavioral and Humanistic Geography
- the study of individual people’s activities and decision making in urban environments;
human needs and impulses (behavioral)
- cultural context for understanding peoples actions and the meanings attached to those
actions (humanistic)
- research explores differences in people’s experiences within a city
- i.e. what kind of meanings does a steel mill carry for different individuals within
a city, how do people’s feelings about steelworkers’ neighborhoods affect their
decisions about where they live in Pittsburgh (or Hamilton)
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4.) Structuralist Approach
- focuses on the implications of macroeconomic, marcrosocial and macropolitical change
for urbanization and on the opportunities and constraints they present for the behaviour
and decision making of different groups of people
- in simple terms, if focuses on the structural processes that shape urban systems and the
internal structure of cities
- i.e. patterns of growth and decline in both of Pittsburgh’s steel mills and their
associated blue-collar neighborhoods
5.) Feminist Research
- the inequalities between men and women, and the way in which unequal gender
relations are reflected in the structure of cities
- i.e. Pittsburgh the feminist approach might be interested in examining changing
gender roles as the urban labor force has restructured following the closing of the
steel mills, wife must support the family
6.) Post-Structural/Postmodern Approaches
- no general theories can explain cities and the people who live in them; accepts the fact
that shifting and the unstable nature of the world and concentrates on questions on who
defines meaning and how this meaning is defined and to what end
- understands the power of symbolism, images and representation as expressed in
language, communication and urban landscapes
- i.e. in Pittsburgh we would examine the government’s attempts to “redefine” the
city within the global economy as it restructures away from steel and towards jobs
in the high-tech and service industries; draws attention to the governments
language and communication to construct images of the city (designed to
influence the views of potential investors and residents)
Urbanization of Process and Outcomes
- urbanization is a process; involves much more than an increase of the number of people
living and working in cities and metropolitan regions
- driven by interrelated processes of change: economic, demographic, political,
cultural, technological, environmental and social
- can also be modified by local and historic factors
(i.e. Henery Ford born in Michigan, which resulted in Ford Motors being
headquartered in Detroit and not somewhere else in the United States)
- urbanization results in the changes of character and dynamics of the urban system (the
complete set of urban areas regionally, nationally or internationally), and within these
cities and metropolitan regions it causes changes in:
a.) pattern of land use
b.) social ecology (the social and demographic composition of neighborhoods)
c.) in the built in environment
d.) in the nature of urbanism (the urban setting)
- certain groups of people may view these outcomes as problems, which leads to political
conflict and policy responses planning, that in turn affect the dynamics that drive
urbanization process
- urbanization processes are complex and are not only affect by direct dynamics, but it
also experiences feedback effects
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