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Redesigning Social Geography of India: Dimensions, Consequences and Methods

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“Geography now comprises a wide range of systematic studies which have one or more of environment, place and space as their foundational concepts (or organizing themes) but whose external links to other disciplines are sometimes at least as strong as their ties with other fields within their home discipline” (Johnston 2005, 11). The umbrella definition of Geography has embraced a flourishing fragmentation, however, comprising a great deal of variation in the extent to which sub-disciplinary communities promote their work as contributing to the appreciation of “areal differentiation”. Within human geography, an increasing range of studies focuses on individuals” self- and group identities—what Dear (1997, 232) calls the “personal politics of space-time”—as people and groups continually reconstitute themselves. The role of place in those structuration processes, and hence the creation and re-creation of areal differentiation as the geography of “difference”, remains fundamental to the entire project, however.

The study of Geography is currently fragmented in four main ways:

Substantive differentiation involves sub-disciplinary divisions identified according to their subject matter. At the macro scale, this is exemplified by the widely recognized human-physical split, involving two separate communities, each with some internal coherence but having substantial contact with the other (and the argument for a third major community—environmental geography in some terminologies—is for an activity which rarely combines the intellectual activity of the two, as against their superficial subject matter). At the meso scale, there are the subdivisions of human and physical geography, some compositional (such as social, political and economic geography) and some contextual (urban geography, rural geography and regional geography of x, for example)—on contextual and compositional. And, at the micro scale, these have their different topical areas of investigation, such as urban social geography, each with its own exemplars.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2009

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