Textbook Notes (280,000)
CA (170,000)
Ryerson (10,000)
GEO (200)
GEO 106 (80)

GEO 106 Chapter Notes -Praxis (Process), Social Distance, Public Space

Course Code
GEO 106
Maria Piccioni

This preview shows pages 1-3. to view the full 9 pages of the document.
Chapter 1: Spatial Concepts & Spatial Dynamics
What is Geography?
- Systematic geography it attempts to describe, explain, predict and prescribe what goes on
in the world, especially the world as it affects humans and the way humans affect the world
- Geography is as much defined by its approach to study as it is by what is studies humans
and environments
- One way to consider the approaches used by geographers is to look at what are called
Pattison’s (1964) four traditions:
1. The spatial tradition concern is with the nature of location, space, place, distance,
direction and orientation of humans the environments in which they have to function.
Geographers are concerned with the geometry of things, their arrangement,
movement between them, and why these arrangements and movements arise. The
principal goal is to explain general patterns of human settlement and behaviour
2. Area studies tradition concern is with differentiating regions of places based on
given sets of attributes. How does one place differ form another in terms of its
culture, demographics, economics, etc. They are concerned with describing regions
and comparing them with other regions. Principal goal is to describe the unique
attributes of places rather than to explain any general patterns found
3. Human-land tradition concern with how humans affect environments and how
environments affect humans (how we perceive environments, how we use and abuse
environments, how we are ultimately affected by what happens in those
environments) Principal goal = while involving good description and explanation, is
focused on managing the environment and the 2-way impacts between us and it,
recognizing that it and we are actually one thing. So, environment can’t be separated
from the species (humans) that partially comprise it, and the Human-Land tradition
focuses on these interrelationships.
4. Earth studies tradition concern is with the physical structure of the earth (its
atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere, and biosphere) and the relationships
among them. Goal is to describe and explain the physical processes that constitute
the planet
- Today most geographers follow loose interpretations of the spatial and human-land
traditions. Geographers are concerned with how space and distance affect people’s
Absolute and Relative Frames of Reference
- The notion of cultural relativity is a spin off from the physical theory of relativity
- Cultural relativity states that truths are relative and based on an individual’s interpretation
of situations, facts, observations, etc. People make their judgements within a frame of
reference they compare what they perceive with what they know or expect to be the case,
they make spatial decisions, and they act
- These relative frames of reference are comprised of sets of presuppositions or evaluative
criteria within which a person’s perception, behaviour and decision-making take place
- So decisions are constrained by these frames of reference: we are as likely to see what we
want to see as what actually exists
- This process of cognitive filtering is very important and significant in our dealings with the
city, and our perceptions of it.

Only pages 1-3 are available for preview. Some parts have been intentionally blurred.

o Any event or situation we (Two people) perceive is filtered by (each of) our
preconceived sets of suppositions, by (each of) our cultural biases and demographic
attributes, and by (each of) our personality traits, to give different (sometimes
completely divergent) interpretations of what we (each of us) see
o Venn diagram: ellipses (other shapes) indicate one set of topics (what each person
believes is the truth about the universe) and the overlap of ellipses (or other shapes)
demonstrates what two (or more) topics have in common. The overlap is what we
both agree upon, and is, perhaps, the closest we can come to a common reality (this
overlap is what we both agree to as real) (Figure 1.1 - pg.3)
- Cognitive filtering is the real world through your gender, age, culture, personality, the way
you define yourself
o You, us (common ground taxes, healthcare), me
- The process of cognitive filtering and relative frames of reference is further complicated by
the ability to learn and integrate new concepts and constructs, b/c these things are
cumulative, building one upon another as you learn throughout your life
- You have limited ability to process info into something meaningful, due to your own unique
set of intellectual capacities and the cultural, economic, demographic and gender biases that
comprise you
The Research Praxis
- Know about relativity, simply so that we know better why we make the decisions we do
- More objective reason to ensure that when we do “research” on a project for work, for
school, for the house, for ourselves as we try to make it through life that we do consistent
research will achieve a goal, and can be replicated by whoever chooses to follow our path
- We all do research in our professional capacities or as human beings
- The basic research praxis (process) is to answer the 6 fundamental questions of
journalism: who, what, where, when, why and how
- The first 4 are the descriptive questions and require good observation powers
- The last 2 are the explanatory questions and are much more difficult to ponder, requiting an
analytical mind
- All 6 questions are influenced by relativity, and the things you observe are selective b/c you
are selective, b/c you are unique almost
- You do research, either formal or informal, b/c you need to shape your lives and/or
- You need to describe, so you can explain, so you can predict, so you can prescribe
- You need, in other words, to describe what is there, in order that you can explain how it got
that way, so that you can determine cause and effect, and hopefully emulate or mitigate
those causes and effects, depending on whether you want them repeated or not
- Also do research in order to decide what life should be like you are looking for “norms”
and the research approach is called normative
- Figure 1.2: The Research Praxis
o Research question aka problem to be solved
o Description, idiographic who, what, where, when
o Explanation, nomothetic how, why

Only pages 1-3 are available for preview. Some parts have been intentionally blurred.

- Figure 1.3 The Research Steps
o Describe explain predict prescribe
o What does it look like? What happened? Why does it look that way? Why did it
happen? What is going to happen? What can we do about it?
o Descriptive tools & observation theory and concept forecasting and modeling
needs assessment goals setting
Space, Location, Place
- Geographers have their own “culture” and perspectives, thus when you work in the spatial
tradition in geography, space, location, and place are important concepts to know
- Space has components of distance and direction and each of those concepts can be thought
of in concrete (or absolute) or in abstract (or relative) terms
- Space refers to an extent or area on the earth’s surface. Space may be thought of as
concrete, that is the actual surface of the earth with all its complexities
- Research of concrete space is often descriptive
- Space may be generalized with all its complications smoothed out
- Abstract space is often used for prescribing how things should be and for developing
normative models
- Distance and direction are important aspects of space
- Distance is the spatial dimension of separation, thus it’s seen as a barrier to interaction,
which may be good or poor depending on what wants to interact
- Distance is measured in terms of the cost to overcome distance or the friction of distance
- Distance can be considered objectively, absolute distance, is measured in standard units
such as cm or km
o Absolute distance has the property of symmetry, a km is a km no matter what
direction, time of day or mood you are in
- Distance can also be thought of subjectively, relative distance, and it doesn’t necessarily
have symmetry
o Relative distance is measured by time, effort, dollar cost, or psychological hassle
o Ex. Driving 10 km on hwy401 is a very different experience at 3pm rush-hour than
3am; takes longer, less relaxed, likely accidents
- 5 types of distance:
o Linear distance straight line or mileage measurement (Hamilton to Toronto =
o Time distance distance in terms of travel time (Hamilton to Toronto = 1-2 hour
depending on time of day travelling)
o Cognitive distance distance in terms of your perception of the travel (Hamilton is
not far enough away, it is a hassle to drive there)
o Cultural distance the separation between you and others due to socioeconomic,
ethnic, and other characteristics. You are closer to people you like and more distance
from people unlike you. Thus, your neighbours are likely to be of the same class as
you, and ethnic neighbourhoods are found in most cities
o Social distance in proxemics this refers to physical distance between people
during interactions
You're Reading a Preview

Unlock to view full version