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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.

Environmental Problems

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

those institutions.

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.

Imaginative geographies

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

of landscapes.

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.

Industrial revolution

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

between regions.

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.

Industrial development

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


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Esame: Geography
Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea in scienze della mediazione linguistica (RAGUSA)
Università: Catania - Unict
A.A.: 2016-2017

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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