Chapter : 1
What Are Human Geography: Nature And Scope ?
Part A - Fundamentals Of Human Geography
- Geography as a field of study is integrative, empirical, and practical. Thus, the reach of geography is extensive and each and every event or phenomenon which varies over space and time can be studied geographically.
- The earth comprises two major components: nature (physical environment) and life forms including human beings.
- Physical geography studies physical environment and human geography studies the relationship between the physical/natural and the human worlds, the spatial distributions of human phenomena and how they come about, the social and economic differences between different parts of the world.
- The dichotomy between physical and human is not a very valid one because nature and human are inseparable elements and should be seen holistically.
- Human geography is the study of “the changing relationship between the unresting man and the unstable earth. Human geography studies the inter-relationship between the physical environment and sociocultural environment created by human beings through mutual interaction with each other.
- Physical elements are landforms, soils, climate, water, natural vegetation and diverse flora and fauna. Elements which human beings have created through their activities on the stage provided by the physical environment are Houses, villages, cities, road rail networks, industries, farms, ports, items of our daily use and all other elements of material culture that have been created by human beings using the resources provided by the physical environment.
- Human beings interact with their physical environment with the help of technology. Technology indicates the level of cultural development of society. Human beings were able to develop technology after they developed better understanding of natural laws.
- Knowledge about Nature is extremely important to develop technology and technology loosens the shackles of environment on human beings. In the early stages of their interaction with their natural environment humans were greatly influenced by it. They adapted to the dictates of Nature. This is so because the level of technology was very low and the stage of human social development was also primitive. This type of interaction between primitive human society and strong forces of nature was termed as environmental determinism.
- There is direct dependence of human beings on nature for resources which sustain them. The physical environment for such societies becomes the “Mother Nature”. The people begin to understand their environment and the forces of nature with the passage of time. With social and cultural development, humans develop better
and more efficient technology.
- The imprints of human activities are created everywhere; health resorts on highlands, huge urban sprawls, fields, orchards and pastures in plains and rolling hills, ports on the coasts, oceanic routes on the oceanic surface and satellites in the space. The earlier scholars termed this as possibilism.
- Griffith Taylor introduced another concept which reflects a middle path (Madhyam Marg) between the two ideas of environmental determinism and possibilism. He termed it as Neodeterminism or “stop and go determinism”. The neo-determinism conceptually attempts to bring a balance nullifying the ‘either’ ‘or’ dichotomy.
- The process of adaptation, adjustment with and modification of the environment started with the appearance of human beings over the surface of the earth in different ecological niches. Thus, if we imagine the beginning of human geography with the interaction of environment and human beings, it has its roots deep in history.
- Earlier there was little interaction between different societies and the knowledge about each other was limited. Travelers and explorers used to disseminate information about the areas of their visits. Navigational skills were not developed and voyages were fraught with dangers.
- There are broad stages and the thrust of human geography as a sub-field of geography. human geography assumes a highly inter-disciplinary nature. It develops close interface with other sister disciplines in social sciences in order to understand and explain human elements on the surface of the earth. With the expansion
of knowledge, new subfields emerge and it has also happened to human geography.
- There are different fields of Human Geography like: