Riassunto esame geography / geografia, docente Zignale, libro consigliato Human geography: the basics, Andrew Jones
Only by the 1980s and the arrival of neoliberalism that resistance appeared in the form of anti-
development movements.A key moment in this is the Latin American debt crisis in the early
1980s, when governments across the global South cut public services heavily. Many Latin
American countries had very little economic growth during the rest of the 1980s and their
populations became increasingly dissatisfied. In some places this led to civil war (Nicaragua) or
Marxist-inspired guerrilla resistance movements (Colombia, Peru) or Zapatista movement in
Mexico. The Zapatista are famous because they cleverly made use of the internet to turn their
campaign into a global one, and they are widely credited with representing the foundation of the
global so-called anti-globalization movement. In this way, by this moment ( 1990s ), resistance to
development within specific countries had itself become a globalized phenomenon. The anti-
globalization movement protested against the brad consensus of neoliberal economic policies
that were accepted across the globe. Other resistance movements have targeted the activities of
transnational corporations, which have increasingly been criticized for exploiting both the people
and natural environments of countries in the global South. ( No Logo Campaign )
This terms is a shorthand for the Earth’s environment. This obviously includes places that other
living creatures apart from humans inhabit, whether this is the remote desserts or deep oceans.
The environment encompasses every aspect of these places or the non-living elements that it
comprises including earth, air and water.
In the early 20th century the subject was preoccupied with the now discredited idea of
environmental determinism. This viewpoint suggested that the environment imposed tight
conditions and boundaries on the nature of human activity in any given place on Earth and
produces certain patterns of behavior. The implication was that societies in the polar regions
evolved very diﬀerently from those on islands in the middle of the ocean or in the tropical regions.
At the heart of this is a conceptual problem that has occupied several social science subject, not
just human geography, neatly encapsulated in the familiar phrase “ the natural environment”.
Human geographers have shown how “nature” and”human society” have blurred boundaries, and
that everyday ideas of there a clear distinction between nature and society is problematic.
Increasingly the separations of the two is argued to be “socially constructed”. This does not mean
there is no such thing as “nature”, but rather that it does not exist outside our understanding and
representation of the non-human world. Environmental geographers have thus in recent times
become increasingly interested in exploring the implications of this insight in relation to how
diﬀerent environments are valued by diﬀerent groups in society and how power relations shape
what is understood to be “good” or “bad” changes to te environment.
Human geography’s central concern for the interaction between humans and their environment
means that the subject is very much about the causes, nature of and potential solutions to
environmental problems. What should be clear from the discussion of the idea of “environment”
above is that human geography has become very concerned in its environmental possibilism
phase with the power relations that are bound up with the idea.
Changes to the environment are happening al the time, and have been throughout the history of
the Earth. Many are influences by humans, some are not, but they can only become a problem if
represented as such by society. The idea that an environmental change corresponds to a problem
therefore implies environmental degradation, but any measure of “degradation” is based on a pre-
existing human view of what a given environment should be like.
Also important to human geographers is the scale at which environmental problems are
understood to exist and are addressed. It is common to talk of “global” environmental problems,
but geographers are quick to point out that no environmental change impacts uniformly
everywhere equally on Earth. Climate change may be a global problem, but diﬀerent places will
experience the consequence of this change to diﬀerent degrees. This is as much true whether
change occurs to the Earth’s surface or atmosphere, or to its ecosystem.
Sustainable Development and Sustainability
The need for there to be some kind of sustainable development is based on the idea that the
Earth’s resources are finite and that current forms of human activity cannot continue depleting
them irreversibly. If everyone on Earth continues to act in their own self-interest, the shared
resource it represents will be depleted in a way that is agains everyone’s long-term interest.
Unsustainable human activity therefore needs to be replaces by sustainable development, the
most widely used definition of which comes from UN’s Brundtland Commission of 1987, which
defined it as “development that mets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of
future generations to meet their own need.
Before the Brundtland Commission, environmental thinking tended to see the relationship
between economic growth and the environment as oppositional- growth would be “bad” for the
environment. Central to this is what is known as a “deep green” approach to development,
founded on ecology. In essence, the “deep green” view of development rejects the idea that the
Earth’s environment can be maintained without limiting economic growth. One of the most well-
known proponents of this is the writer James Lovelock who proposed his “Gaia” idea in the 1960s
- that the Earth is like a living organism and needs to be maintained in good health.
Global environmental politics
The debate about whether sustainable development can be achieved at the planetary scale has
become a central aspect of international politics.Global warming has created an urgent need for
political institutions to come to formal agreements that straddle the globe in order to tackle the
problem. The first major step in this directions was the 1997 Tokyo Treaty, where a number of
wealthier countries signed up to an agreement to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases that
cause global warming.
Human geography is especially interested in what can be termed the “re-scaling” of
environmental politics to the global level that has occurred in the last 50 years or so. As with other
aspects of political globalization, environmental politics in today’s world is practiced through a
large and growing number of actors that exist at many diﬀerent scales.
Chapter - States, nations and culture
State and nationalism
One of the commonest confusions in political geography comes with the use of concepts of
“state” ,“nation” and “nation-state”. These words are used interchangeably. They are interrelated,
but it is important to understand the diﬀerences between their respective definitions and their
relationship to the phenomenon of “nationalism”.
The “state” refers to any governing institution that has jurisdiction over a piece of territory on the
Earth’s surface. A state is therefore an institution that governs a community of people who live in
that piece of territory, usually involving some form of social hierarchy with an elite group at the top
of it. The important historical change that led to the appearance of the kinds of states that cover
maps in today’s world came with the development of modernity from the 16th and 17th centuries.
This term corresponds to a number of changes to society linked to the re-emergence of science
as an important form of knowledge along with the spread of capitalism. A further aspect was the
circulation of many ideas dating back to antiquity, and in particular the writings of Greek
philosophers about what a state should be. This challenged the right of European monarchs to
rule. Such a process took many centuries and is historically complex, but together these changes
produces the progressive transformation of the medieval monarchy-based states into modern
nation-states. Historical geographers are interested in the diversity of ways in which this
transformation occurred, but the important outcome was the major shift in how collective
identities of people changed. The nation-state become the dominant form when, during the 20th
century, the nationalist ideology spread across the globe.
Nation and nationalism
The concept of a nation refers to a community of people who share a common identity, based on
some degree of cultural commonality; it often entails a common language, and some degree of
common ethnic heritage. It is closely related to nationalism. If the nations-state is the institutional
form of states in today’s world, then nationalism is the idea and value-system that underpins
Anderson argues that nations are dynamic communities of shared identity that must in essence
involve some kind of spatial imagination. There are three aspects to this imaging process. First,
nations are imagined as being “limited” inasmuch as they must have external boundaries beyond
which other nations exist. Nationalism is an ideology requires that there are other people out there
who are not part of your nation, and nations are defined as much by the people who are not part
of them as by those who are.
The second aspect to the way in which nations are imagined brings us back to the idea of
sovereignty. Nations have to be sovereign because the idea came out of that historical period
associated with the Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries.The French Revolution in 1789
was all about destroying the legitimacy of kings and queens “appointed by God”, and breaking
free. The sovereign state is the emblem of this freedom. Finally, nations are imagined as a
community of equals. No matter how much inequality and exploitation may go on within nations,
the idea is based around a common sense of comradeship. People are loyal to nations and to
their national “brothers” and “sisters”.
Human geographers have a particular perspective since all three of these dimensions to the
imagined basis for nations have a very strong link to territories and to particular places. Nation-
states have geographies which are mapped and represented to the national population.
Nation-states thus rely on what have been termed “national myths” about the legitimacy and
supposed naturalness of these imagined communities. The examples are numerous, but consider
how every nation-state has a national flag, national monuments, national museums and national
public holidays. National myths often perpetuate the idea that imagined communities are very old,
based on the idea that nation have a long history in a given place, when in fact they are much
more recent. Their goal is to generate among populations strong feelings of belonging to the
Once you appreciate that nationalism is a modern ideology that has not been around very long, a
further important thing to realize is that there are many diﬀerent nationalisms and these are not
simply repeated versions of the kind of nationalism that appeared in Western Europe in the 19th
century. Political geographers have argued that there is a tendency to see nationalisms as based
on European American models, but in fact the ideology of nationalism has been transformed and
mutated as it has taken hold in other parts of the world. Human geographers informed by a
postcolonial perspective , and in the aftermath of the cultural turn, are thus interested in how
many nationalisms correspond to complex hybrids that blend elements of Western nationalism
ideology with local qualities, meanings and nuances that never exist in Europe.
For human geographers, one of the key debates over the last couple of decades has been the
impact of globalization on nation-states and nationalism. We saw that one of the major arguments
made about globalization is that nation-states are being undermined or weakened by it. They key
point here to emphasize is that human geography provides a sophisticated way of understanding
why nation-states are not only far from being dead but are unlikely to disappear any time soon.
There have never been more nation-states that there are today, and in fact the planet-wide
coverage of this political territorial form of state is really only a recent phenomenon.
The state and the economy
In today’s globalized world, states are far from in decline but have evolved a complex set of
relationships with other economic actors. In the 1990s political scientists argued that nations-
states were “dead” and “obsolete”, and that they had become irrelevant in relation to a globalizing
economy. Economic and political geography have in a range of ways shown how this is not the
case, and how states remain crucially important actors in the operation of the global economy. As
the economic geographers Dicken argues, states stile matter enormously. Their role may have
changed from in earlier decades, but states remain at the centre of economic activity not at its
margins. Dicken identify at least four ways in which this is the case.
The first is around the issue of regulation. Economic activity does not exist in a vacuum, and
states are important regulators of what goes on. Firms have to obey state laws, and states impose
restrictions on what they can and cannot do.
A second aspect of the interaction between states and the economy that geographers are
interested in concerns the role that states play as “containers” of markets for good and services.
Economic geographers point to the fact that economy globalization produces a two-way power
relationship between TNCS and states, rather than enabling TNCS to be dominant. TNCS need
access to the national markets that state are the political institutions in charge of, and in that
sense state stille have power.
State also act as containers in another way because of the persistence of distinctive cultures
associated with individual nations-states which shape te way in which economic production is
undertaken in diﬀerent places around te world.
Finally, states act as both competitors and collaborators in the complex global economy that
exists today. They are competitors because they try to maximize their wealth through the best
trading position they can achieve internationally. States try to attract investment from firms to
build factories, create jobs and thus increase the amount of good and services produced within
their territorial area.
International security and terrorism
The world in which we live is neither a peaceful nor conflict-free one. The history of nationalism
and nation-states since the 19th century, as with earlier periods in human history, is one full of
conflict and wars. The global political map that you can look at in any atlas at the start of the 21st
century is thus a product of many centuries of conflict between diﬀerent groups of people in
diﬀerent territories. Today’s national borders are largely the product of previous historical conflict
that has produces agreed boundaries between diﬀerent national communities. Of major
significance are the First and Second World War, which represented the largest and most
geographically extensive conflict in human history, and led to the establishment of many new
In the aftermath of the Second World War, a new world political order emerged that sought to
maintain international security and prevent future global-scale conflict. The world political map in
1945 was dominated by two major “superpower” rivals - the United States and the Soviet Union -
that each held significant influence over other nation-states. At the end of the 20th century new
kind of threats to international security emerger from above and below the calse of nation-state.
At the forefront of this is the emergence of what has been termed “global terrorism”. This can be
either by one person or an organized group, and terrorist target people or property with the
intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments.
Culture is a notoriously diﬃcult concept. Put simply, culture is a system of shared meaning based
around things like language, religion, communities, customs, ethnicity and other identities that are
present in all human life. Culture is therefore everywhere, and present in everyday life. Culture then
exists everywhere at a variety of scales, and is dynamic and constantly changing as people’s
shared meanings interact and change through time and space. It is simply “what humans do” and
is this a kind of process with multiple forms rather than an explanatory variable or a single
cause.That does not means that it does not have “real” manifestations; Whether in the
architecture of a city ecc, culture is all around us in the material world and people’s behaviors and
practices. This is the human geographer’s view of culture today. To understand the diﬀerent
strands of cultural geography, there three diﬀerent major areas to talk about: immaginative
geographies, the consumption of places, and spaces of consumption.
The term “imaginative geographies” is widely linked to the ideas of the social theorist Said used to
descrive the ways in which other places, people and landscape are represented and how these
so-called imaginings reflect the desired and preconceived ideas of their inventors and thus shape
action. It is alto therefore concerned with the power relations that exist between the inventors of
ideas and the subjects of their imagination.
Important here is the concept of representation. It refers in short to the cultural practices and
forms through which people interpret and portray the world around them. Said’s proposed
representations are not eh only ways Europeans in the last two centuries have imagine non-
Europe, but his approach has been enormously important within human geography in the
aftermath of the cultural turn.
The word “imaginative” is used to denote that these are representations rather than meaning that
imaginative geographies are in some way “unreal”.
The issue of consumption has become increasingly important in human geography. If economy
geography in an earlier period was focused on the location of production activities, then today
human geography has become very much concerned with the geographical nature of how goods
and services are consumed after they have been produced. Consumption can be defined as the
use of all the products that people create through labour. For human geographers, the important
issue here is that consumption is always “profoundly contextual” insofar as it is “embedded in
particular spaces, times and social relations”. As a social practice it is linked to people’s desires,
and from a historical perspective it is argued to be linked to the development of modernity since
the 17th century and the emergence of an industrial capitalism that enabled a mess consumer
society to develop during the 20th century.
Human geographers and other scientist widely agree that consumption does not correspond to
an inevitable final moment at the end of one-directional chain of economy production. Retail
industries have expanded enormously over the last 50 years, employing a growing proportion of
the workforce in countries’ economies and increasing in power ever more traditional “production”
industries such as manufacturing through supplier chains. Consumption then is a crucial part of
our everyday lives and one that has become increasingly central to the world economy and
The consumption of spaces and place
We need to consider two of the major aspects to this recent geographical interest in consumption.
Geographers have argued that consumption often occurs in specific sites and in essence
“makes” place, but equally in today’s world it is bound up with the processes of globalization. Is
important to consider two strands of the debate around the spatiality of consumption.
First, there is a conceptual analysis within human geography about how the consumption of
spaces needs to be understood as a complex interaction between the global scale and local
contexts. A key aspect of globalization is the transmission of ideas, values and practices at the
global level. Consumption are heavily caught up in this. An important aspect to this debate is the
degree to which modern consumption is a form of cultural imperialism whereby Western products
are imposed on the rest of the world. Such products are sometimes argued to promote Western
values over others, and thus to produce a loss of “local” or authentic cultural diﬀerence.
Consumption activities are seen by many within and beyond geography as a leading mechanism
by which cultural globalization occurs. Closely related to the issues of global -scale geography
and the spatiality of consumption is the issue of how consumption occurs in “places”. Human
geographers have been fond the idea that consumption “takes place” to express not only how it
occurs as a practice happening in certain places across the planet but also how it is actually
recreating and transforming those places. They key argument here is that our imaginative
geographies attach attributes to specific places which we consume, and global capitalism
consumer culture produces and sells global arrays of cultural and geographical diﬀerences. Crang
argues that rather than eradicating cultural diﬀerence and producing some ind of “end to
geography”, consumption in today’s world thus “reproduces geographies, framing certain local
places of consumption as global centres”
There is a further aspects of the consumption of place we need to mention. That is the way in
which increasingly all places are being packaged up as things to be consumed. One important
facto behind this is the growth of tourism as a global industry. Think about guide books such as
the Lonely Planet series, which now provides near-comprehensive coverage of every country
worldwide. As with other guide books, specific places are identified that tourists go to consume
visually and experience. Most books in that series oﬀer the “top 20 places” to visit, the “must-
see” laces oto be consumed by you as a tourist. The point is that the planet are becoming that
we know about the expect or desire to consume. This consumption of place as a phenomenon is
connected with a range of transformations in today’s globalized world: the growth of the retail,
tourism and other leisure industries, the deliberate marketing of places as a means of achieving
economic growth and regeneration, improved travel and communications industries and of course
global cultural flows.
The regionalist approach in geography developed a tradition of recording and representing the
features of diﬀerent regions around the world. Landscape was always recognized as a composite
that obviously included material aspects of the Earth’s surface but that human beings also has a
central role in creating. During the 20th century, cultural geography developed this ideas as its
basis, making close linkages between the people living in an area and the form and development
Landscapes was a kind of record of cultural change, with its form changing incrementally as
cultural values change.
Reading landscapes can reveal both symbolic system of meaning and the social relations in
societies, and cultural geography has developed this approach far beyond its application to
historical paintings. Reading household spaces as landscapes reveals the nature of power
relations between men and women in a domestic setting, or in the case of national spaces, the
architectural form of buildings or planning of settlements can provide insight into the dominant
ideas of nationalism in a nation-state a a given historical moment.
Landscapes is understood both as a complex representation that reflects certain social meaning
and relationships between people and also as a material place that people inhabit and is made
and remade as they live in it. While landscape in a popular everyday sense is often associated
with some idea of the natural world and countryside, human geographers see it as corresponding
to a particular way of thinking about the representing the world around us in ways that have both
historical and geographical specificity. Landscapes are cultural things, not intrinsic natural
phenomena that exist in the world outside of human meaning.
The rural and “rurality”
The ways in which human geographers have thought about ideas of landscape and representation
brings us to another important debate: the nature of the ‘rural‘. Put simply, the ‘rural’ can be
defined as areas ‘dominated by extensive land uses such as agriculture or forestry, or by large
open spaces of underdeveloped land’. It can also include places where there are small
settlements that are closely related to the landscape and which ‘are perceived as rural’. However,
this last point is key — that What is rural depends on people’s perception. Hopefully it should be
clear in light of the preceding discussion of how geographers underStand landscape as a social
construct that what people understand by the word ‘rural’ will vary enormously according to
where they come from and who they are. It is diﬀerent in diﬀerent cultures and in diﬀerent places.
Rurality in Western countries has often been understood as an attractive rural space, which
contrasts significantly with other places in the world. Yet in the global South, rural areas may be
remote, isolated, dangerous and without amenities and services. Geographers have therefore
approached the issue of how we might define a rural area along two simultaneous lines. On the
one hand, an empirical approach can develop ways of measuring how ‘rural’ places are in a
functional way, primarily by assessing the nature of land use and other criteria, such as population
density. On the other hand, there is a debate in human geography that is conceptual in relation to
the nature of rurality, concerned with those issues that we have been addressing in the section:
how rural places are constructed through imagined geographies.
One of the major issues that runs through both approaches is that the meaning of rural is based
on an opposite — the idea that some places are ‘urban’. In the modern word, the idea of rurality is
generally used to refer to areas of land that are not covered by towns and cities. The problem is
that in reality there is much ambiguity, depending on which criteria or measure you use, as to
whether many places are ‘urban’ or ‘rural’. More recently the binary opposition of “urban versus
rural” has been recognized as being problematic, and geographers tend more often now to speak
of a “rural-urban continuum”.
This is substantial areas of work within the subject, and it is impossible to go into all the many
debates in depth here. At least three areas of human geographical work on rurality need
highlighting. The first areas is an interest in the changing nature on rural spaces in the context of
wider processes in today’s world.
More and more of the world’s population live in towns and cities in the 21st century than ever
before, and issues from the rate of depopulation in rural ares to the impact on rural economies
and lifestyles have been of central concern to geographers. Another important process is that of
neoliberalization and in particular the impact of the globalization on rural economies.
Second, human geographers have also become interested in the politics of rurality, along with
new kinds of politics in rural ares. In the wealthier countries of the global North, for example, the
development of many industrial and environmental policies in the EU has been strongly influences
by politics based on rural areas.
Finally, cultural geographers have also set out to examine the dynamic nature of rural economies,
and particularly how globalization and increasing mobility have produces an intermixing of urban
and rural people to a degree to which is not clear whether there is any correspondence between
rural territorial space and rural social space.
Chapter - Cities, regions and industries
The word “region” has two common uses: either as an area of territory within a nation-state or as
a larger area usually comprising several adjacent nation-state on the world map. Human
geography makes use of both concepts of the region, and it can be very confusing terminology if
the scale of the region being discussed is not made clear. In the 20th century, the concept of
“region” developed as human geography tried to become a “spatial science”. Region were
reconceived as a certain scale, and as corresponding to system that liked to larger scales such as
the national or global. This represented a major shift away from the 19th century regional
geography that saw regions as areas of territory closely linked to local cultures which in turn
shaped the nature of the landscape in that area. The region has thus been an important point of
conceptual conflict and argument in human geography with recent work in light of the cultural turn
rejecting both the earlier descriptive approach of regional geography and the idea that regions
could be conceptualized in the objective terms of a spatial science approach. Debates in the
subject about the nature of regions are thus today closely linked to those about place, seeing
regions as partial, interlinked spaces that include social, cultural, political and economi
It is worth elaborating a little more on the use of the region within economic geography where the
region has been one of the major focuses of both theorizing and research. The major reason is
that since the Industrial Revolution, which began in Western Europe in the 28th century, economi
activity has identifiable developed in regions.
In the historical development of the world economy, industrialization is one of the key processes
of transformation that has occurred in modern times. The Industrial Revolution emerged in
Western Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries, and spread across the globe. In the 20th
century, the next wave of industrialization was based around diﬀerent kinds of industries
associated with the emergence of mass-produced consume goods. One of the most significant
and discussed industries here is the automobile industry, Company such as Ford were founded
and dominated the economies of certain regions. In what is sometimes considered to be a fifth
wave of industrialization based around high technology industries since the Second World War,
new regions have come to the fore that are not necessarily those that were industrialized in the
mass manufacturing wave, such as the Silicon Valley region of California on the basis of
computers and software. Conversely, just because a region become industrialized around one
wave and one particular set of industries does not necessarily mean it will not experience,
successive industrialization processes.
Historically the process of industrialization was extremely spatially concentrated with certain
regions experiencing rapid economic growth as industry emerged while other saw very little.
One of the major concerns of human geography since the 1970s, has been the geography of
industrialization across the economies of the global North, and in particular the economic, social ,
cultural and political impacts of this process on people’s lives. The concept “deindustrialization”
refers to the decline of industries and their gradual disappearance from regions and other
locations. As with industrialization, it has to happen “in place” and geographers have been
particularly interested in the factors that have shaped the unevenness of deindustrialization
While some of the earliest industrial regions experienced partial deindustrialization from te late
19th century, it is in the period as been a prevalent process. By the later 1960s, many of the
regional economies in the global North dominated by manufacturing and heavy industries were
experiencing industrial decline. The factors behind this competition from new ares of the world,
overproduction and a fall in demand for the goods being produced. This produced high levels of
unemployment, poverty and dereliction of industrial areas.
Places that had experienced the dramatic benefits of earlier industrialization now faces
substantial problems: high unemployment, rising crime, urban decay and out-migration.
A central problem is that new industry have emerged in diﬀerent regions in the economies of the
global North from the old industrial regions. Geographers argue that this unevenness in the
pattern of industrialization and deindustrialization is not random or accidental. Part of the reason
older industrial regions do not experience new industrialization is because of the barriers created
by the presence of existing industry. This is captured in the idea of regional “lock-in” or “path-
dependency”. In short, the problem is that old factories and industrial facilities that are
concentrated in a region are not suited to new uses, and the workforce in that region has the skills
suited to the old industries rather than new industries. The automobile factories around Detroit
and the workers who work in the are not suited to the software or biotechnology industries.
Agglomeration and clutters
The issued of the spatial concentration (agglomeration) of firms and industries within regions is
one of the biggest debated in the sub-disciplinary area of economic geography. The idea is
longstanding, dating back to the work of Marshall. His argument was that those specialized
industrial districts in diﬀerent regions of Britain created by the industrialization had a distinctive
“industrial atmosphere” and also benefited from what are known as agglomeration economies:
the presence of skilled labour, dedicated infrastructure and the support of specialist input
industries example would be the presence of firm in the region supplying. All of these factors
essentially reduce the costs of producing goods and services to firms. However, since the late
1980s, geographers have revisited and developed many of these ideas. Central to this revival of
interest in agglomeration is the exstension of arguments about its benefits beyond the reduction
of costs to other kinds of advantages. Geographers now argue that industry agglomeration is
important in term of all kinds of benefits linked with learning and innovation.
The classic example of a successful cluster is that of Silicon Valley. Because a large numbers of
computers, software and other information technology firms are located close together in this
area, the abilities of the highly skilled workforce who work in these firms are collectively improved
and continually updated through the provision of specialist training and education.
Knowledge and innovation
Economic geographers argue that we now live in a global economy where knowledge has
become one of the most important contributory factors to the production of the goods and
services. This is what is meant by concept of the 21st century global knowledge economy. This
increasing important of knowledge is sometimes also termed the “informationalization” of the
global economy. Geographers have become increasingly interested in this respect in diﬀerent
forms of knowledge. These is an important distinction to be made between codified knowledge,
which is formal and systematic ( you can find it in a manual or a textbook) and tacit knowledge,
which is based around direct experience and cannot be easily expressed in texts or documents.
Tacit knowledge is there fore more practical and represents the “know-how” involved in doing
something. You only have to think about the diﬀerence between two people trying to operate an
electronic gadget such as a DVD player or games console, one by reading instruction manual and
the other by having experience of the gadget from repeated use. Tacit knowledge or knowing how
to operate somethings makes all the diﬀerence.
The role of diﬀerent forms of knowledge is crucial in relation to a key process in economic activity
- innovation. In the context of the economy, innovation is the creation of new goods and services,
and it includes the modification of existing ones. Firms in today’s world are constantly trying to
innovate in order to remain competitive and/ or increase their profits. Such innovation happened
in large companies that had formal research and development departments, which employed
skills engineers or scientists to develop new products in a separate environment from the main
divisions of the company that produced its existing goods and services.
The learning region
Economic geographers have used these various theories of knowledge and innovation to develop
a broader approach to the debate about clusters and regional agglomeration around the idea of
the learning region. At least some arguments are made in relation to this concept. The first is that
globalization does not make all places equally attractive for economic activity, but rather leads to
new forms of agglomeration based around where knowledge can be created. Second, the
opposite is true of tacit knowledge, which is “sticky” and remains very firmly rooted n specific
A third issue is that of the informal rather than formal social practices that are involved in
economic activity. Regional economies benefit from all kinds of informal relationships and linkages
between individuals that tie firms together, Storper called these “untraded interdependencies”,
that are hard to measure and that loosely correspond to the collection of skills, attitudes, habits
and shared understanding which come about in an area where there is specialized
production.Finally, geographical work on learning regions has emphasized the significance of
trusting relationships between firms, which is crucial if they are to collaborate and learn
collectively. The idea here is that grater closeness between firms means they are more likely to
trust each other that trust distant firms with whom they have only periodic contact.
Geographical analysis on economies has a considerable interest in the nature of economic
activities: namely the development of specific kinds of activities and how this is also part of the
explanation for the geographies of economies we see in today’s world. We therefore now need to
consider some of the major ways in which geographers have contributed to an understanding of
diﬀerent industries and how a geographical view-point sheds light on the roles of diﬀerent types
of industries in the global economy.
It is one of the commonest misconceptions in some wealthier countries in Europe and North
America today that, overall manufacturing industries have declined. While it is true that these
countries may have experienced manufacturing industry deindustrialization, in terms of the global
economy, manufacturing output has increased almost every year since the end of the Second
World War. What has changed dramatically is where manufacturing are made, what is made, and
how they are made.
Up untile the 1970s, the vast majority of the world manufacturing industry was located in the
global North, but increasingly manufacturing moved to economies in Asia and Latin America.Led
by Japan, Asian countries produce more and more of the world’s manufacturing output. Lower
labour costs are on of the major factors that have led to this relocation over recent decades.
Geographers have sought to understand the trends in this shift of manufacturing production from
the economies of the global North, and explain why some manufacturing industries have
continued to succeed in countries like France, Germany and the United States.
Second is the issue of what is made. Over the last 50 years, the nature of manufactured goods
has changed radically. Broadly, this has two aspects: a huge increase in the volume of
manufactured products made, and a dramatic increase in the number of diﬀerent types of
products. There many more diﬀerent products. this includer a huge number of manufactured
goods that are simply new and related to technological innovations of the fourth or fifth
This leads us to the third issues in relation to manufacturing: the dramatic changes in how
manufactured goods are made. A large body of work in economic geography has been concerned
with the shift to what is argued to be a new kind of more flexible manufacturing economy that has
enabled both an increase in the volume of production and all that diversity in manufactured
Services and the knowledge economy
In the last few decades, economic geographers have become increasingly interested in the
services industries. The definition of what corresponds to the “service sector” is something of a
problem. Services used to be regarded as fairly unimportant by human geographers and tother
social scientists, a kind of small additional set of economic activities that were marginal to the
main industries in the primary and secondary sectors. In the second hard of the 20th century, this
changed dramatically in at least three major ways.
The firs was the massive growth in the size of the service sector in most of the world’s
economies. Another factor is the way large companies have moved ways from providing many
services “in-house”. Car manufacturing firms no longer have their own catering or advertising
division as they may have done in the 1960s and 1970s. Now they buy in these services from
other specialist companies. The dramatic growth in services is therefore multi-dimensional and
has uneven geographical impact. Economic geography has therefore areas where service
industrie have developed and flourished and those where they have been less evident.
A second trend is the enormous diversification of activities that come under the label of a
“service”. There are lots of new kinds of service industry compared to even 30 years ago. One
important aspects of the diversification of services is the useful distinction between “producer”
services that are provided by firms to other firms and “consumer” services that are oﬀered to
individuals. Regarding the former, industries such as accountancy, advertising or management
consultancy fall into this category, whereas consumer services include a whole range of industries
from leisure firms owning gyms and cinemas to classic services such as hairdressers.
Finally, the third trend around the service sector of the global economy is the growing importance
of certain types of services to the operation of all industries in the global economy. This bring us
back to the issues of the knowledge economy and specifically te increasing importance of
producer services. The growing importance of knowledge as an input into everything that is
produced in the global economy means that specialist producer services have become more
important. Whether or not the aircraft company Airbus can develop and sell a new model of place
is reliant on the inputs of many specialist firms oﬀering services around a whole range of areas
including engineering, design, specialist recruitment, software and marketing.
The new economy and creative industries
One particular part of today’s global knowledge economy that has been of great interest to human
geographers is those industries that are associated with what is termed the ‘new economy’ and
that are in some way ‘creative’. One of the reasons that geographers have been especially
interested in these industries is partly because, in order to fully understand their development,
there is a need to explore diﬀerent elements of the subject. While the above account of the
appearance of new service industries covers many aspects of this ‘new economy’ of recent
decades, not all of the industrial activity associated with this idea fits neatly into the category of
‘services’. Many new knowledge~based industries appear to make products rather than provide a
service (or at least do both), even if these are not material goods. These kinds of ‘creative
industries’ range from more traditional industries that have evolved - such as advertising and
marketing, music and the visual and literary arts - to more truly new activities that have only really
come into existence in recent years, such as computer games, film and television, media and web
design. They have been of significant interest to economists, business theorists and planners
because they are seen as key drivers of economic growth (especially within urban economies),
but geographers have also done a lot of work on these sector. They have, for example, examined
what makes successful computer games industries or examined clusters of designer firms in the
global fashion industry.
The reason for this may be the argument that a geographical approach is especially useful in
understanding the many factors that lead to the development of these industries. Creative
industries are impossible to understand without an appreciation of cultural transformations in
global society. Human geographers arguably have the edge in conceptualizing the development
of these new economi activities and creative industries over accounts in subjects such as
economics. One particular debate in this respect shows this very well: the idea that the people
who work in creative industries are the key to economic growth in city-region.
This new “creative class” includes not only artists and musicians but all kinds of jobs in fashion,
media, marketing and so on. One of the arguments is that these creative industries cluster in
attractive city environments that people in this creative class work in, which also links to ideas
about cluster and “local buzz” discussed earlier.
Agriculture and food
A fourth and final group of industries that geographical work has been concerned with provides a
contrasting example of the way in which the interdisciplinary nature of human geography is helpful
in understanding the complex changes in today’s global economy. In the case of agriculture and
food production, dramatic changes to the actors responsible for producing food together with the
way these industries are organized has brought huge changes and challenges to the landscapes
and environments that people around the world live in. Equally, as we mentioned when
considering consumption in the previous chapter, geographical work sees the issue of food
production as very closely tied to questions of consumption. ”Food is a geographical topic’. We
could argue that it is becoming ever more so as globalization processes further transform the way
in which the agricultural industry produces foods, and what foods people around the globe are
able and wish to eat. Three major aspects of geographical work on agriculture and food are worth
highlighting. First, a geographical approach is very much interested in where and how food is
produced and the complex system by which it is transported and sold to people to consume. The
concept of the global food chain traces the multiple connections to diﬀerent places of production
for food and agricultural commodities.
Another second aspect of geographical interest in agriculture and food is also the social impact
of changing food production. With the increasing power and dominance of TNCS in food retailing
and agriculture in countries of both the global North and global South in the 21st century,
geographers have been concerned with the dramatic changes of livelihood that occur as
traditional rural ways of living disappear. Small farmers are being replaced by industrial agriculture
across the world, and transnational firms also increasingly dominate through their use of specialist
Geographers have been interested in the responses to these changes including, attempt to
protect small food producers in the global South through cooperation and alternative food
Finally, as mentioned already, the changing nature of consumption of food has been of great
concern in cultural geography. The changing nature of food consumption is in part the result of
many factors over the last 50 years, including changing methods of food production and
distribution, as well as social and cultural transformation in many regions of the globe. Cultural
globalization has exposed many people to new kinds of food, and economic globalization has
enabled foods to be distributed to places where they were never previously available., These
processes mean that a wide variety of cuisines are increasingly available everywhere on the
The majority of people in the world today live in cities or places that would be described as
“urban”. In the richer countries of the global North, it is estimated that more than 70 per cent of
people live in urban areas and the developing countries in the global South are rapidly catching
up with this figure: the comparable figure is already 60 per cent. Human geographers have long
been interested in cities. Yet defining a city is itself tricky. Cities come in all shape and sizes, and
have very diﬀerent make-ups, in terms of who lives in them. Geographers broadly have made use
od a series of criteria for defining an area as urban based on the size and density of the
population living in a particular place. The problem remains, that the nature of cities in today’s
world remain very diverse. Cities in the global South, for example, such as Mumbai, Mexico city or
Lagos have very diﬀerent social structure, physical forms and urban politics from those of many
cities in Europe or North America.
Urbanization and urban form
The concept of urbanization refers simply to the way in which cities have grown as more and
more people have moved to live in them.Throughout most of the last couple of centuries,
urbanization has continued at a steady pace. Cities in the year 2000 were more numerous, had
bigger populations and covered more land than they did in 1900. The same is true of the previous
100 years. This process, however, has not always been either uniform or consistent for all cities in
all parts of the world. In the wealthier regions of the global North, large cities in the late 20th
century did also experience decline and an opposite process counterurbanization. However, for
the most part, it is urbanization processes that have been dominant. Both urbanization and
counterurbanization are of course inherently geographical phenomena insofar as they generally
involve movement of people to live in cities, and the physical growth of cities terms of land area.
Of equal interest to geographers, however, is wider question of how cities expand into new
territorial space, well as how they change over time. Geographers have therefore, a interest in
urban form — that is, the physical structure of how cities are laid out, where buildings are located,
what kinds of buildings are in particular areas of cities and what factors shaped this. One of the
classic models in urban geography proposed by the American sociologist Ernest Burgess. While
historically specific and simplistic models such as formed the basis for many attempts by urban
geographers to understand the form of cities, the sub—discipline remains closely. concerned with
how diﬀerent areas of cities gain or lose land—use characteristics. In the last 60 years, major
debates in this respect have been concerned with how deindustrialization, flexibilization,
informationalization and globalization have aﬀected urban form. These are enormous debates in
and of themselves, but we can briefly identify at least two overlapping features of changing urban
form that have concerned geographers.
A second set of changes to urban form that has concerned geographers relates to the
globalization of cities and their increasingly interlinkage into global city networks. Changing urban
form in many cities is a consequence of the relationship a city or area of a city has with the global
economy. The construction of new central business district areas or the gentrification of old poor
housing neighborhoods over recent decades is linked to the oﬃce space needs of transnational
firms and to the higher incomes of specialized service industry employees respectively.
Urban system and global city network
Historically, the origins of trying to understand cities as part of urban system related to the way in
which urban geographers sought to classify diﬀerent types of cities within diﬀerent countries and
nation-states. Such an approach established that larger cities played a more important role than
smaller ones within regions and countries.
Central place theory is based on assessing the functions fulfilled by diﬀerent urban settlements
that were spread across a piece of territory, and argued that larger towns and cities provided more
important, rarer services to the surrounding area. In the later 20th century, and especially after the
+1 anno fa
I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher graziano92 di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di Geography e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università Catania - Unict o del prof Zignale Maurizio.
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