Human geography is one of the main sub fields of geography as the larger discipline. Human geography is in reality a branch of social sciences. Social sciences are involved in studying the world, studying the people in the world, cultures and communities of the world. Human geography however focuses more on the relations that human beings have in relation to their placing and spacing. Human geography has a special focus on the activities of human beings. Human geography applies more of qualitative research methodologies.
A main branch of human geography is cultural geography. This branch is very important in the study of human geography as a discipline. In fact cultural geography can be considered as the back bone of human geography and the branch of human geography that gives the larger discipline a deeper meaning. In other words cultural geography is the skeleton of human geography. Cultural geography is basically the study of human culture. It involves studying cultural norms accepted in a given place as well as the cultural products of that given place. Cultural geography focuses on how cultural norms are not the same in all places on the planet earth. Cultural norms vary from place to place with no two places having exactly the same culture. Cultural practices can only resemble each other but in no places are they absolutely identical. The resemblance is caused by a phenomenon known as cultural borrowing. Cultural borrowing is a phenomenon that involves different cultures of the world borrowing from each other aspects that they find appealing. Such appealing cultural practices may appeal to neighboring cultures and this will lead to their incorporation or adaptation (Cloke, p.29). Cultural geography is especially concerned with description and analysis. This description and analysis is in most cases focused on language, government, economy as well as religion. This is because these are the chief aspects of a given culture. These are the key aspects of cultures that tend to stand out and make a given culture clearly distinguishable from other cultures in the surrounding areas as well as distant areas. Through the study of cultural geography human geography is able to analyze and clearly understand the concept of human behavior. This is because culture normally stands out clearly in behavior. In other words culture greatly affects behavior. It I thus very important to understand human culture as it will pave the way to the understanding of human behavior. Culture not only explains human behavior but it also serves to justify it and quantify it. Human geographers can get the justification for given patterns of human behavior through the study of human culture in a given place and setting.
Human geography is also heavily vested in development. It appropriately follows that there is a branch of human geography that deals exclusively with development. This branch is development geography. Development geography is the study of the planet earth but with special emphasis on the quality of life as well as the standard of living of people living in a given place. In other words development geography is the study of the rate and level of development of people in a given place and a given setting. Development is assessed through focus on the quality of life and the standard of living. Standard of living focuses on the affordability of basic necessities to all people across the board. Standard of living emphasizes on the level at which people in a given place live and the opinions and perceptions they have about their personal lives as well as life as a universal concept in other words human life in its entirety. The quality of life involves quantification of the living levels of people in a given place it involves the development level of a given place reaching a certain level which in turn revolutionizes the concept of life to people living in a given setting. Quality of life mainly focuses on minimums. A high quality of life means having rather high minimums. Having a low quality of life means having low minimums that are low when measured through a universally accepted system of assessment and quantification. Development geography can therefore be described as having special emphasis on the economy (Jones, p.62). The level of development of a given place can best be measured through the economy of the place. The economy will provide a clear picture of the development level both presently and in the past. The economy can also be used productively. This means that the economy can be used to predict the future of a given place in terms of development and the quality of life of the people in that given place. Economic trends are amazingly very accurate in predicting the level and rate of a given lace within a specified period of time. This means that when used effectively and correctly economic trends are very reliable in terms of their near pin point accuracy in terms of predictive abilities. The economic organization of the earth is also of great importance. This is because the economic organization of a given place is unique to that given place and very different from the economic organization of different places. This explains why the development rate varies from place to place with no two different places undergoing development at exactly the same rate.
Geographical patterns through time are very important in the study of human geography. This thus introduces historical geography as a branch of human geography and a very important one at that. This is because historical geography focuses on all geographical aspects of the past be they physical, theoretical or even fictional. This is very important in physical geography. In order to be able to understand the current state of a given place the past of the place must have been analyzed in detail and each aspect of this past clearly spelt out. This is because of the fact that the past has a tremendous impact on the present as well as the future. Analysis of how a region or a given place and its associated society morphs as time goes by is very important to human geographers and the concept has to be brought into context. A good example is the culture of a given place. Culture is not a static aspect of human society. Culture is very dynamic and versatile. Culture tends to grow and evolve as time goes by. The growth of culture us based on influencing factors some of which are major historical landmarks or profound historical events. Human geographers are also interested in studying how people have been interacting with their environment over time (Norton, p.82). This interaction with the environment is responsible for the creation of the cultural landscapes we know today. In order to understand a specific cultural landscape it is very important for a human geographer to step back in time and find out the various ways in which people have been interacting with their environment. This will bring the human geographer full circle with all aspects of a given cultural landscape and why this cultural landscape is particular to a given area and not another area that might be in very close proximity to the area currently under study.
Politics is very important in shaping human interaction both with other human beings and with the environment. This therefore makes politics very important to human geography. As such political geography is a branch of human geography. This branch goes deeper than the normal electoral processes that take place in almost every country of the world. This field goes deeper into the world of politics. This field focuses on the study of politics and space. It studies how political outcomes are affected by space. Space is very important in understanding politics and political outcomes of a given place. A given space can have influencing factors that always sway political decisions in a given direction. Such factors can include culture and even ethnicity for example race and tribe. It is therefore very important to study politics in relation to space so as to be able to get the full picture of all the factors in play as far as political decisions and other aspects of politics are concerned. The relationship between political processes and space is however a two way traffic. The process does not stop with space influencing political processes as well as political decisions. In some instances the reverse can also happen. In certain situations space can be in turn highly affected by political processes leading up to political decisions. An example can be given of a political process that is deemed to be flawed or undemocratic by the majority of people in a given space. This can adversely affect the space in which the people exist. This is because violence and protests can break out and this can have adverse effects on the space itself. Thus politics is an integral part of human geography. It is very important for human geographers to fully understand all aspects politics in relation to space and the reverse of the relationship as well. Political geography therefore stands out as a very important branch of human geography especially in terms of its research value and potential (Huntington, p.51).
Human geography has very special interest in population. The study of population and space is very important to human geographers. Thus there is a branch of human geography known as population geography. Population geography focuses primarily on how population patterns vary in relation to space. This is because a given space can greatly affect the population patterns within that given space. It is important to understand the distribution of population in a given space and establish the relationship between this particular distribution and the space itself. In other words population distribution is in actuality dependent on the space in which the distribution occurs. Population geography also focuses on population composition in relation to spatial variations. This is because different spaces tend to have different population composition. This study therefore focuses on exactly how spatial variation affects the population composition of the space in question. Spatial variations also tend to have adverse effects on human migration from one space to another. There are aspects of each space or rather spatial variables that can influence a population to either migrate into a given space or migrate out of the space in question. Spatial variations mean the nature of a given place. The nature of a given place undoubtedly affects the population of the place in question. Growth of population especially is greatly affected by the nature of a given place. This is because not all places are conducive or rather life oriented. This study therefore focuses on the mortality rates in different spaces and how this mortality rate is influenced by the space in question. Thus human geography has special vested interests in matters population making population geography a key area of research and information as far as human geography is concerned (Huntington, p.83).
Settlements are also very important as far as human geography is concerned. This is because settlements tend to affect the economic factors of a given place. Human geography therefore has two branches that deal specifically with settlement. These branches are settlement geography and urban geography. Urban geography deals with the study of urban areas as well as rural areas paying special attention to spatial aspects that tends to affect human settlement. In other words it focuses on understanding why a given area develops into an urban area and another area develops into a rural area. There are spatial factors in play as far as human settlement is concerned and these spatial factors dictate whether a region develops into an urban area or into a rural area. Settlement geography on the other hand focuses primarily on infrastructure development as opposed to urban geography which focuses on concentration of buildings (Jones, p.93). Clearly there are spatial factors in play as far as the development of infrastructure is concerned. This explains why different infrastructures exist in different places. For example roads leading up a mountain are very different from roads traversing a flat region. This is an example of how space affects infrastructure development and design. Urban geography however focuses on aspects such as population density and population distribution in relation to spatial variations. Thus it is clear that settlement is very important in human geography.
It is very clear that human geography is very important in understanding human behavior and all aspects of the human psyche which relate to the surroundings. Human geography focuses on studying human beings in relation to their spatial disposition. It is very important to analyze and understand exactly how spatial disposition affects human beings and all their activities be they social, political, economic or otherwise. Human geography also focuses on culture and is very important in understanding human culture. Human geography delves into human culture in relation to the spatial distribution in which the culture is found. Human geography focuses on how human cultures can develop in a given area and they migrate to other areas due to increased interaction of people from these different regions. Some of the key cultural aspects that human geography focuses on are language and religion. Language and religion are key aspects of human culture that are particularly space specific. They are thus very insightful to human geography as a discipline.
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