Archive for November 13th, 2012

Applied Geography   no comments

Posted at 7:11 pm in Uncategorized

Geographic knowledge skills can be applied to the resolution of social, economic and environmental problems and can be viewed as a socially relevant approach to the study of the relationships between people and their environments.  Applied geography is an approach whose reasoning is based on a philosophy of social knowledge and focuses on the application of geographical skills.

There are three principal kinds of science as described by Habermas (1974) and which can also be seen as underpinning the epistemology’s of applied geography.

  1. Empirical- analytical.  The aim of this type of science is to predict he empirical world using scientific positivism.
  2. Historical-hermeneutic.  Interpreting the meaning of the world by examining the thoughts behind the actions that produce the world of experience.
  3. Realist-emancipatory.  Here the aim is to uncover the real explanations governing society and encourage the members of society to seek a superior formation.

These three different types of science all have different goals.

  1. A positivist scientific explanation is the principal route to knowledge.  Its primary goal is to understand, predict and eventually control environmental events.  However, complexity has made this impossible to achieve.  Such an approach ignores human agency and social structures in decision making.  The desire to predict and control events is similar to social engineering, and can be considered ineffective and socially unacceptable.
  2. The aim is to raise self and mutual awareness.  This approach is especially relevant in areas where stereotyping of certain groups and places can lead to social tension, isolation and conflict.
  3. Realist science seeks to promote real understanding by people of their position within their socio-political structure and of the factors that condition their lifestyles and living environment.

This three fold typology of science as described by Habermas characterises applied geographers as agents for social change.  The goal is to enhance human well being through a shared philosophy pursing knowledge in order to resolve social, economic and environmental problems.

From Applied geography : principles and practice : an introduction to useful research in physical, environmental and human geography by  Michael Pacione.

Written by Abby Whitmarsh on November 13th, 2012

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