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Chapter 1

GEOG 2UI3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Core-Based Statistical Area, Urban Geography, Census Tract

Course Code
Robert Wilton

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Chapter 1 – Urbanzation and Urban Geography
The Study of Urban Geography
- Concerned with local variability within a general context
- Understanding distinctiveness of individual places (scale of towns, cities, etc.) and regularities
within and between urban areas (spatial relationships b/w people and their environment).
- Heidelberg project – abandoned house covered with stuffed animals – street free of trash, crime
and created a sense of community – provide educational opportunities for neighbourhood
children to experience art.
- Built environment – homes, factories, offices, etc.
- Economic environment – institutions, structure, organization, etc.
- Social environment – norms of behaviour, attitudes, culture, etc.
- Cities must be viewed as a part of the economies and societies that maintain them.
Space, Territoriality, Distance, and Place
- Space – not just a medium where economic, social, political and historical processes are
expressed – factor that influences patterns of urban development and the nature of the
relationships b/w different social groups within cities.
Legal boundaries – electoral boundaries
- Territoriality – particular groups within society to attempt to establish form of control,
dominance, or exclusivity within a localized area.
Gangs, ethnic groups, gated communities
Space + Membership + Identity = Social Interaction
Groups influence spatial settings, which mold attitudes and behaviour of people
- Distance – affects behaviour b/w consumers and producers of goods and services
Influence social interactions
Shape and influence extent of social networks
Physical accessibility to opportunities and amenities it important
- Place – sense of place
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Concern with areal differentiation and distinctiveness of places
Approaches to Urban Geography
- Quantitative Revolution (b/w Urban Geo and Social Sciences) – Two developments
Large quantities of reliable socioeconomic data about cities and neighbourhoods =
available from sources like censuses
Tools to analyze and shape this info were available in the wake of new digital
technologies and GIS.
Allowed urban geographer to see further with more clarity and provided a means by
which to judge theories about urbanization
- Influenced by changing social values
- Changes in cities themselves and in the nature of urbanization have also contributed to the
evolution of approaches to urban geography – link between local housing markets and
international finance after the financial meltdown of 208-09
- Personal misfortunes of families
- Work in urban geography (Settlement geography) sees towns and cities as adaptations to
natural physical circumstances – responses to sites, resources, opportunities, etc.
-Spatial Description Approach – dominated early development - morphology of towns and cities –
their physical form, their plan and their various townscapes and functional areas
- Scientific principles influenced attitudes toward knowledge -> Settlement and morphology
studies fell
-Spatial Analysis Approach – philosophy and methodology of positivism developed in the natural
Philosophy – founded on principle of verification of facts and relationships through
accepted scientific methods
- Rise of positivism affect geography and social sciences – quantitative revolution reinforced it
- Redefine urban geo – science of urban spatial organization and spatial relationships & focuses
on the construction of testable models and hypotheses.
- Abstractions and overdependence on statistical data can seem flat and lifeless in the face of the
urban realities of people’s lives to which they are applied.
Leave unanswered important questions concerning underlying processes and meanings
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- Data is useful, but left without a sense of how the relationship came about (neighbourhood to
-Behavioural Approach – to respond questions – focuses on the study of individual people’s
activities and decision making in urban environments
Continued to use positivist methodology, explanatory concepts and analytical
techniques derived from social psychology and social philosophy
Neglect the importance of cultural context for understanding people’s actions and the
meanings attached to those actions led to the emergence of the humanistic approach
- Replaced by methods like ethnography, and participant observation that attempted to answer
questions that capture people’s subjective experiences
- The humanistic approach has been criticized for not paying enough attention to the constraints
on people’s decision making and behaviour.
-Structuralist Approach – made after humanistic – at the scale of macroeconomic, macrosocial
and macropolitical changes.
Focuses on the implications of such changes for urbanization and on the opportunities
and constraints they present for the behaviour and decision making of different groups
of people.
Combination of macroeconomic theory, social theory, and the theories and concepts of
political science and includes the political economy approach
-Feminist Approach – deals with the inequalities between men and women and the way in which
unequal gender relations are reflected in the spatial structures of cities
-Structure-Agency Approach – an attempt to unite the structuralist approach’s concern with the
macrolevel social, economic, and political structures with the humanistic approach’s emphasis
on human agency
Structuration theory sees society’s social structures as created and recreated by the
social practices of human agents
Impossible to predict the exact outcome of the interactions between social structure
and human agency
Not easy to analyze the continuous and complex interrelationships between structure
and agency
-Gentrification – wealthier classes moving to a certain area
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