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Lectures 2-5 Notes

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Damian Dupuy

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Cliff Lau University of Toronto
GGR124 Lectures 2-5
Urban places can be defined using a variety of different criteria
Population minimum size of settlement or agglomeration; minimum
density; relying on population alone can be problematic
Economic base minimum proportion of the labour force in non-agricultural
Administrative using some legal or administrative criteria; but comparative
research is difficult; physical and social extent of the city can extend far
beyond the administrative responsibility (people could work in one area but
commute from a different area)
Functional reflect the real extent of the urban influence; census data
expressed in terms of functional definition; Census Metropolitan Area (CMA)
is bigger than the administrative area (Toronto includes Mississauga,
Markham, Vaughn, etc)
Understanding Urban Geography
Understand/interpret the distribution of towns and cities
Account for the differences and similarities between them and within them
Two key themes: spatial distribution of towns and cities (system of cities);
internal structure of the city (city as a system)
Discipline is eclectic
Approaches to Urban Geography
1.Dominant up to the mid-20th century
2.Relationship between people and their environment
3.Site and situation studies physical characteristics determine
urban development

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Cliff Lau University of Toronto
4.Urban morphology how urban areas have grown and changed over
5.Recent work concentrates on the production, form, and design of urban
1.General paradigm shift in the 1950s
2.Human behaviour is determined or influenced by scientific and
universal laws
3.How scientific laws produced observable patterns of urban activity or
form on-the-ground
4.Two broad approaches ecological, and neo-classical
5.Ecological human behaviour is based on ecological principles; most
powerful groups obtain the most advantageous place in a given space
6.Neo-classical driving force was rationality; homo-economics or
economic rationality of human behaviour; cost-minimization of
Behavioural and Humanistic
1.Emerged in the 1970s as a reaction to scientific determinism
2.Behavioural extension of positivism; focused on decision-making, on
human behaviour but in a model-like way still seeking generalizations
3.Humanistic looking for the deeply subjective and complex relations
between individuals and groups, and the places they exist; techniques
drawn from the humanities (use of film, writing, paintings, etc)
1.Broad approach in the social sciences
2. Importance of social, economic, and political structures in society
3.Derived from the writings of Karl Marx
4.Approach was dominant in the 1970s and beyond mainly in response to
social problems emerging in urban areas

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Cliff Lau University of Toronto
5.Criticized because of the emphasis on class viewed as too limiting
1.Emerged in the late 1980s early 1990s
2.Approach rejects notion that one perspective should hold sway
3.Emphasizes individual difference or multiple perspectives help us
understand the urban area
4.Most visible impact is often seen in urban design (Chicago, Toronto,
Berlin, etc)
5.Criticism is that there is an endless range of possible interpretations
for the city
Scales of Analysis in Urban Geography
Neighbourhood City Region National City System World System of Cities
Origins of Cities
How and why did non-agricultural settlements arise?
How and why did those settlements become geographically concentrated?
How and why do some of these urban settlements grow to become larger than other
Two key concepts crucial to the understanding of the development of
Social surplus production of basic goods over and above what is needed for
Agglomeration concentration of activities, people, networks of
relationships in space
What might generate this social surplus?
New technology
Environmental change
Changes in social organization
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