Dialogue, metaphors of dialogue and understandings of geography

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Increasingly, human and physical geographers alike describe their research practices as involving dialogue of some kind. However, the widespread popularity of the term belies some very different understandings of its meaning and methodological implications. In this paper we reflect on these different conceptions of ‘dialogical’ geography as a way, first, of illustrating the broad range of understandings of research methodology now current in the discipline and, second, of identifying their implications for three long–standing controversies in the discipline: relativism and the truth of geographical knowledge, the associated dualisms between subject/object, nature/society, and realism/constructionism, and the potential for unity between human and physical geography. We argue that, while dialogue is a potentially fruitful way of understanding and practising geography, that the defence of it, like the attacks on it, is often misconceived.

Keywords: hermeneutics; naturalism methodology; philosophy of science; qualitative methods

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1475-4762.00077

Affiliations: 1: King’s College London david.demeritt@kcl.ac.uk 2: King’s College London sarah.e.dyer@kcl.ac.uk

Publication date: September 1, 2002

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