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human geography

human geography Geography is generally defined as the science which describes the earth's surface, its form and physical features, its natural and political divisions, climates, and productions. This broad-ranging discipline has numerous points of contact with the natural and the social sciences. In the case of the latter the sub-discipline of social or human geography is particularly pertinent.

Human geography was pioneered by the French geographer Vidal de la Blache (Human Geography, 1918). A broadly similar development of social geography occurred in Germany. Unlike physical geography, which is concerned principally with the description and analysis of territory, human geography focuses on the interaction between human populations and territory. This relationship has largely been ignored by mainstream sociological theory and research (except by rural and urban sociologists) until recently. The initial rapprochement between sociology and geography resulted from the impact of Marxism on human geography (see especially D. Harvey , Social Justice and the City, 1973
) and on urban sociology. Subsequently there has been a more wide-ranging discussion concerning the significance of spatially defined relationships for social structure and process (and vice versa). A notable contribution has been made by Anthony Giddens's incorporation of space (and time) in his theory of social structuration. This work, in turn, has influenced (together with realist epistemology) the development of so-called critical or post-modern geography, which attempts a reconstruction of the theoretical basis for geography, parallel to that attempted by Giddens for sociology.

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