101 World Human Geography
This glossary contains all the words for which there are links in the text of the various units - plus some other terms that are either used in the text, or simply useful for understanding geography.
Activity Segregation - Most offten used to refer to the different and unequal use of space by men and women. Activity segregation occurs because men and women are assigned different roles to play in gendered divisions of labor. Though it is used in this class to refer to gender based segregation, the concept is flexible enough that it may also refer to similar situations related to different aspects of identity.*
Agglomeration - The grouping of industrial or productive activities close to one another in order to create cost advantages, as in the creation of an industrial park or area of a city given over to industry.
Agriculture - The systematic cultivation of plants and animals. Systems of agriculture are highly variable over space and time. Generally speaking, agriculture can be divided into two classes: subsistence agriculture and commercial agriculture. In the contemporary world commercial systems predominate and are expanding at the expense of older subsistence systems.
Apartheid - Literally, "apart-ness;" apartheid was a geographical system of racial control developed in South Africa. It operated at three scales - petty, urban, and grand (see Recitation 8) - and sought to totally control the movements and locations of all people of color.
Assumptions - A statement or condition agreed to be true for the purposes of a particular model (as when the Von Thunen Model assumes an isotropic plain); such statements or conditions may not hold in the real world, but are made in order to simplify a system and isolate important variables.
Bid-Rent Curve - A graph which plots the relationship between how much rent people are willing to pay for land given its distance from a specified point (usually the center of a city). The information on a bid-rent curve is essential for understanding the Von Thunen Model and the Concentric Zone Model of the city.
Biological Determinism - The theory that the various cultures, social systems, and economic and political conditions of groups from around the world correspond with and are created by the innate genetic make-up of individuals or of races or ethnicities.
Bulk (or Weight) Gaining Industries - Such industries add weight or bulk during the production process. That is, finished commodities are heavier or bulkier than their constituent parts. These industries typically locate closer to markets than to their sources for components because transportation costs are before manufacture than after. Contrast Bulk (or Weight) Reducing Industries.
Bulk (or Weight) Reducing Industries - Such industries remove weight or bulk during the production process. That is, finished commodities are lighter and less bulky than their constituent parts. These industries typically locate closer to their sources for components and raw materials than to their markets because transportation costs are less after manufacture than before. Contrast Bulk (or Weight) Gaining Industries.
Capital - Value that is created from and reinvested in the production of commodities. Capital may take different forms as production and exchange occurs, and manifests itself as the ability to purchase (or invest in) machinery, raw materials, and labor. The important thing to remember is that when we use the term "capital" we are always referring to a relationship - as between "capital" and "labor."
Capitalism - A specific form of economic organization in which workers (those who produce things) are separated from the ownership of the means of production; and in which labor is treated as merely another commodity in the production process. The value created by labor accrues not to the laborers, but to the owners of the means of production. See also, exchange value; use value; Marx.
Central Place Theory - A normative theory devised by economic geographer Walter Christaller (1893-1963) (among others) which accounts for the size and distribution of retailing functions within urban places and their hinterlands by emphasizing the concepts of range and threshold.
Citizens - Citizenship implies a particular relationship to government, one in which citizens have a voice in the affairs of their government. This contrasts to a relationship between the state and individuals that establishes people as subjects of the sovereign government. Citizenship is a highly contested ideal, in that while people of different classes, genders, races or ethnicities may have won formal rights as citizens over time, they may nonetheless actually be excluded from effective citizenship through poverty, policies of discrimination, or social processes of disempowerment (such as racism and sexism).
Colonialism - The rule by a sovereign state over an alien people and land which involves formalized political and legal control, an asymmetrical economic relationship that favors the colonizer, and a social system in which the colonizers are dominant over the colonized. Compare imperialism.
Commercial Agriculture - Crop growing and livestock breeding undertaken primarily in order to realize exchange-value (rather than use-value) in local, national, or international competitive markets. Contrast subsistence agriculture.
Concentric Zone Model - A model of urban land use based on inferences from bid-rent curves. This model suggests that different social groups and land uses sort themselves into a set of concentric rings around the peak land value intersection. See also, rent gap and gentrification.
Connectivity - The degree of connection or separation between people, places, and things.
Consumption - the use of a thing or process. The geography of consumption is an effort to understand how resources and commodities are used, how they are distributed, and how that use and distribution is geographically uneven. Studies of consumption often rely on such concepts as cultural hegemony to understand why consumption is uneven, and to understand who has power in consumption systems. Studies of consumption also often focus on the symbolic qualities that commodities possesses.
Contagious Diffusion - A form of expansion diffusion in which an innovation (or other phenomenon) spreads across contiguous space after direct contact between the innovator(s) and potential adapters of an innovation (or other phenomenon). Contrast hierarchical diffusion.
Critical - Given to careful, precise judgments; precise analysis.
Crude Birth Rate (CBR) - The annual number of live births per 1000 population in a given area.
Crude Death Rate (CDR) - The annual number of deaths per 1000 population in a given area.
Cultural Hegemony - A phenomenon in which one group seems to willingly submit to the political, social and cultural practices of another, more dominant group, fostering the acceptance of inequality as "natural." Cultural hegemony, however, is almost always contested in one way or another, even if only subtly. The idea of cultural hegemony has been used to describe processes as diverse as the perpetuation of racism or patriarchy in the US and the aggressive export of European or American popular culture to other countries.
Culture - An abstract concept that refers to 1) the "total way of life" of a group of people; or 2) to a system of signification (i.e. signs, symbols) that gives meaning to people; or 3) to the works of art, music, literature, etc. of a people; or 4) to that which is not nature. Culture is one of the most complex terms in the English language.
Cyberspace - The intangible space created through electronic communication, especially on the Internet or other computer networks.
Deindustrialization - The sustained and cumulative diminishment of the importance of industry (especially manufacturing) in the economy of a particular place caused by declining profits and changes in local and global economic conditions. Hence deindustrialization is associated with the systematic decline of a place or region as a center of mass-production and assembly-line manufacture. Sometimes the term refers to the actual process of closing down a particular factory and throwing people out of work. Contrast industrialization; see also post-fordism.
Demographic Collapse - A rapid, devastating decline in population, as happened to Native Americans when Europeans brought disease, differing economies, and new forms of warfare to the "New World" after 1492.
Demographic Transition Model - A model that shows historical changes in birth and death rates and used to explain rapid population growth. A country is said to have passed through the demographic transition when it has moved from a condition of high birth and death rates (and a relatively small population) to low birth and death rates (and a relatively large population).
Demography - The study of population dynamics. Demographers examine birth rates, changing birth patterns, migration, and changing patterns of death (among other things). Demographical analysis is undergirded by the study of changing economic, political, social, and cultural processes that explain changes in population dynamics.
Development - The process by which a society goes about realizing its potential. More specific definitions of "development" are necessarily tinged by political perspectives (as we will see in class), but in general we can see development as a process of structural improvement designed to assure the well-bring of a populace. Contrast underdevelopment; see also see-saw motion of capital; uneven development.
Diffusion - The movement of an innovation (or other phenomenon) across space.
Disability - According to the social model of disability, the disadvantage a person faces because of an impairment. *
Division of Labor - The ways in which tasks are divided among workers. Geographers are particularly interested in spatial divisions of labor - in the ways in which labor is allocated across different spaces and scales. In general, divisions of labor can be seen at the global scale (as between first and third world countries), the meso-scale (as between minority and majority cultures in a region), or the micro-scale (as between management and assembly workers, or between different workers in a factory doing different tasks).
Doubling Time - The time it takes a population to double in size from any given numerical point. A country with a 2% growth rate will see its population double in 35 years; one with a 4 % growth rate will double in 17 years.
Ecology - The study of the interactions and relationships between organisms and environments. In human geography we are particularly interested in social ecology - the relationship between people and environment, and between people and other people (through which the people-environment relationships are organized).
Economics - The production and management of material wealth. Geographers are especially interested in the spatial aspects of economic systems, including patterns of production, distribution, and consumption, and in the ways in which differing economic processes work in and through places and spaces.
Electoral Geography - The study of the geographical aspects of the elections. This includes the organization of campaigns, the conduct of the election itself, and the results of the election.
Electronic Ghetto - Mike Davis uses this term to describe areas of cities structurally excluded from the so-called "information revolution." They are the places that have little or no access to computer networks, to high-quality fiber optic phone lines, etc. Compare information city.
Environmental Determinism - The theory that the physical environment (especially climate) controls human character and behavior and consequently human cultures and societies.
"Era of Bipolarity" - A name given to the Cold War era to indicate that the geopolitical system was dominated by a "tug-of-war" between two, fairly equally matched "superpowers." States in the global system were attracted to (or forced to) one or the other of these two poles like iron to a magnet.
Ethnicity - The real or perceived commonalties within a group of people that differentiates it from other groups.
Exchange-Value - The value of a commodity realized when that commodity is exchanged for other commodities (including money). In a capitalist economy, the value of a good is realized either as exchange value (when it is sold or exchanged) or as use-value (when it is used). Capitalism distinguishes itself by elevating (in most instances) the exchange value of a good above its use-value - a thing has very little value unless it can be sold or resold. Compare use value.
Fast World - A term that describes those places exhibiting a high degree of connectivity with other places, and which is marked by good telecommunications service, a high degree of inward investment, and ease of transportation to the rest of the world. Contrast Slow World.
Filtering - The process whereby middle- upper-income groups leave their houses and move to more expensive ones, thus decreasing the value of real estate in their old neighborhoods and making the houses available to lower income groups. The assumption that the filtering process operates efficiently in the US is a major tenet of American housing policy. Filtering is also important for understanding the Concentric Zone Model. Contrast gentrification.
Footloose Industries - those industries which are free to locate almost anywhere; economic activities not bound by site factors to locate in any particular place. More and more economic activities (even including agriculture) are becoming footloose as transportation and communication costs fall.
Forced Migration - Migration that occurs involuntarily due to war, famine, oppression or other factors not under the control of individuals. Forced migration is almost always a result of push factors. See voluntary migration.*
Fordism - A system of manufacturing which involves large-scale mass-production of commodities for national and global markets, detailed divisions of labor, de-skilling of workers, and repetitive tasks. In the US, an "era of fordism" can be recognized from roughly the turn of the twentieth-century until the mid-1970s. Fordism is thus often associated with industrialization, with firms showing high degrees of vertical integration. Many analysts argue that since the 1970s the US has entered an era of post-fordism.
Formal Region - A region delineated on the basis of one or more identifiable trait which sets it apart from other regions - for example, a region defined by language or dialect. Compare functional region; perceptual region.
Functional Region - A region delineated by a process or processes occurring in it. A functional region has a central node around which processes are organized, and into and out of which all processes flow - for example, a newspaper delivery area delineates a functional region as all editorial information flows into a node (the editorial and publication offices in a city) and newspapers flow out to the surrounding hinterland. Compare formal region; perceptual region.
Gender - Social elaboration of sex-based differences. "Gender" is usually used to indicate the cultural or social aspects of sex differences that develop over space and time rather than the limited natural differences between sexes. Geography is particularly concerned with how social relations between genders (such as the gender division of labor) vary over space and time, and how these changing relations contribute to the making of place.
Gentrification - A process whereby lower-income housing (or other buildings) are renovated for middle- and upper-income people and businesses. By definition, gentrification means the displacing of lower-income people through eviction, rising real estate values, or increased taxes. Contrast filtering.
Geoeconomic Power - Global power based on economic rather than political or military might. Many commentators suggest that after the "era of bipolarity" geoeconomic power will be more important than geopolitical power in determining the functioning of the global system (see geopolitics).
Geographic Structure - Often called "spatial structure," the term refers to the modes in which space is organized in any given society. Hence, the study of geographic or spatial structure helps us understand the governing mechanisms for how people interact with each other.
Geography - Literally, "earth-writing," or earth-describing. Most broadly, geography is the study of the changing nature of the Earth's surface and the humans, plants, and animals that live on it. Human geographers are particularly interested in the ways in which social life is organized and changes across space and time. Hence, geography is interested in spatiality, scale, and the interdisciplinary blending of humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences so as to better understand how people create and socially reproduce spaces and places (see social reproduction).
Geopolitics - The study of control over territory, of power over the earth and the peoples on it. Frequently, geopolitics is associated with the study of how large-scale political processes influence international relations, but geopolitics can also refer to much smaller scale struggles for control over territory and the shape of political and social life.
Globalization - The increasing interconnection of places culturally and economically as the result of changes in the location of production (the New International Division of Labor), the emergence of global markets, new communications and transportation technologies, and the growth of homogenous consumer markets spanning the globe.
Growth Rate - In the study of population, the annual percentage rate at which population grows. For example, if a country has a crude death rate of 6 per thousand and a crude birth rate of 46 per thousand it will have a growth rate of 4 per cent - and a doubling time of 17 years (this example is roughly correct for the West Bank). Also called the rate of natural increase because this statistic excludes migration.
Hierarchical Diffusion - A form of expansion diffusion in which an innovation (or other phenomenon) spreads over space from large places to progressively smaller ones, skipping the spaces in between. Contrast contagious diffusion.
Hinterland - The area surrounding a node or center (such as a city) and influenced by it.
Homelessness - The condition of being without a home. There is much confusion about homelessness, with many commentators arguing that it is a function of mental illness, alcoholism or drug abuse, or other personal problems, but at root homelessness is simply having no permanent or stable home, and is thus related to the structural and geographical uneven distribution of housing opportunities in contemporary society.
Ideology - A partial truth that benefits a particular group of class of people. That is, ideology is a suite of ideas fostered by a group which colors perceptions of the social order and provides a distorted (because partial) vision of the true nature of social, political, economic, or other conditions.
Imagined Community - A term coined by political theorist Benedict Anderson to describe the way, through media and other large-scale activities, people imagine for themselves a shared sense of history and culture in which their commonalities (across a relatively expansive space) are greater than their differences. See also nation.
Imperialism - An unequal relationship usually between states in which a dominant state seeks to control the economic and political activities of a subordinate state (or states) in order to reap economic and geopolitical benefits. Imperialism is similar to colonialism, but differs in that imperialism does not necessitate a military presence or a colonial government in the subordinate territory.
Industrialization - The development of industry such as manufacturing into a major facet of a region or national economy, replacing small-scale production for local markets with large-scale mechanized, production for national or global markets. Contrast deindustrialization; see also fordism.
Information City - A city which acts as a focus for information, especially via high-technology. An information city is one in which a large percentage of the work-force is engaged in high-tech communication or services that rely on a steady flow of information. Compare electronic ghetto.
Internal Cohesion - The condition of nations and states "hanging together," through political, economic, or cultural rituals and processes (such as holidays, election rituals, national mythologies, etc.).
Isotropic Plain - An assumption often made in models (such as the Von Thunen Model) that the world is a flat, featureless plain with a uniform distribution of population, wealth, transportation costs, access to markets, and so on.
Labor - Most generally, work. The term "labor" indicates work that is socially organized. In capitalism, labor is work performed for a wage and creates surplus value. Labor thus stands in relation to capital in that both capital and labor are necessary to engage in production, but it is labor that creates the surplus value (i.e. profit) that capital appropriates. Compare, means of production; see also social reproduction, exchange value.
Labor Surplus - more people than there are jobs in any given region, or for any particular economic activity. All other things being equal, a labor surplus will lower the value of labor and thus (potentially) increase the surplus value available to capital. Marx argued that overpopulation was in reality surplus population - or, in other words, local labor surpluses. See also uneven development.
Landscape - The natural and built environment perceived as a form or view. The term "landscape" refers to both the actual, physical environment (including buildings, streets, etc.) and to pictorial representations of it. See also cultural landscape; natural landscape.
Malthus, Thomas - (1766-1843) English clergyman, economist and demographer who argued that if population was not checked by moral restraint (negative checks), it would outstrip available resources (creating a condition of overpopulation) and be stopped by various positive checks like war, famine, disease, etc.
Maquiladora - A factory on the Mexican side of the US-Mexican border which specializes in assembling components shipped from the US (or other markets). The finished product is also returned to the US market. Many, but not all maquilas are subsidiaries of US corporations. Firms locate in the maquiladora zone to take advantage of low-cost labor and lax environmental regulations, yet still have rapid access to the US.
Marx, Karl - (1818-1883) German philosopher, economist, and political revolutionary who provided an incisive analysis and critique of capitalism to show how it necessarily involved the exploitation of a class of people (workers) in order to grow and develop. In population studies, Marx argued against Malthus to suggest that the theory of overpopulation was incorrect; instead, Marx argued that capitalism continually created (and had to create) a condition of surplus population in order to survive as an economic system.
Means of Production - Tools, machinery, land, and so forth necessary in the production process. Labor works on the means of production (but in capitalism does not own them) to produce commodities which the owners of the means of production then sell to realize the surplus value workers have produced.
Mental Maps - The maps we carry in our heads and with which we organize and make sense of the world. Peoples' mental maps vary with class, gender, ethnicity, "race," and so forth. They reflect what we know, what we think we know, and what we do not know about the worlds of which we are part.
Metaphor - A figure of speech that links two objects by speaking as if they were one, as in referring to the world as "spaceship earth" or "a lifeboat." In geography, models are metaphors of the geographical world.
Multiplier Effects - The phenomenon whereby when a job is created in one sector of the economy, it leads to the creation of jobs in other economic sectors; for example, when new staff are hired at this University, they spend money in nearby establishments (bars, stores, churches, real estate offices, etc.) creating jobs in those places, and they pay taxes that support road workers, assessors, county clerks, police departments, etc. Multiplier effects are important for local and regional economies. Contrast negative multiplier effects.
NAFTA - The North American Free Trade Agreement, a set of agreements between Mexico, the United States and Canada breaking down barriers to the movement of capital and commodities between these three nation-states. NAFTA went into effect on January 1, 1994.
Nation - A people bound together by a shared sense of history and culture and rooted in a particular territory. Nations are built by constructing successful imagined communities. See also nation-state; nationalism; state.
Nation-State - most literally, a condition in which the territory of a nation is congruent with the territory of a state. The system of nation-states is a modern form of global geopolitical organization in which the surface of the earth is nearly completely divided between presumably sovereign nation-states. Even in a world of nation-state there are many national groups that have no state; and there are states that are multinational. See also nationalism.
Nationalism - A feeling of belonging to a nation; also an ideology that asserts the primacy of national feeling to other means for organizing societies. As an ideology, nationalism has provided strong fuel both for particular groups seeking to assert power over territory and to oppress groups within "their" territory that they perceive as different from themselves. Nationalism is often expressed as a desire for national control over a state.
Nature - That which is characterized by the absence of human modification or production; that which is not culture; yet we also speak of "human nature," which indicates that we conceive of people as both within, and apart from "nature." Nature, like culture, is one of the most complex words in the English language.
Negative Checks - Sometimes called "moral checks," negative checks were for Thomas Malthus, those factors - specifically abstinence and the delaying of marriage - which through individual moral choice curbed population growth and stemmed the threat of overpopulation. For Neo-Malthusians a wider range of negative checks are advocated - such as artificial birth control, and/or abortion. Contrast positive checks.
Negative Multiplier Effect - A phenomenon in which the loss of jobs in one economic sector leads to further job loss in other economic sectors, as when the elimination of university staff positions leads to less money spent in local bars, stores, churches, or real estate offices, leading to lay-offs in those sectors, and less money being paid in taxes, leading to the erosion of jobs for road workers, assessors, county clerks, police personnel, and so forth. Negative multiplier effects have profound consequences for local and regional economies. Contrast multiplier effect.
Neo-Malthusian - A contemporary stance that that builds off of Malthus's ideas about overpopulation to argue that world population is in a state of crisis. Neo-Malthusians generally agree that a wider range of negative checks on population growth than Malthus advocated should be implemented.
New International Economic Order - A 1974 UN resolution sponsored by developing countries that stated that developed countries had a responsibility to share wealth with less developed countries, and that this should be the basis for international relations.
Overpopulation - A condition where the number of people in an area exceeds the resources available to support that population. The idea of overpopulation is most closely associated with Malthus and Neo-Malthusians and was strongly critiqued by Marx who favored the idea of surplus population.
Pastoralism - An economy based on the herding of animals.
Patriarchy - A condition in which gender relations are characterized by the dominance of men over women, or masculinity over femininity. Patriarchy is thus a relationship, but it is a relationship supported and socially reproduced through institutions and geographies.
Peak Land Value Intersection (PLVI) - That point in a city, historically with the greatest access to and from all other points in the city and hinterland, where land values are the highest. The PLVI serves as the center of the Concentric Zone Model of the city. In a real city it is usually located where the tallest buildings (and thus the densest land uses) are located.
Perceptual Region - A region perceived to exist, usually in the collective imagining of people at large, and possessing an identifiable nickname (i.e. "the Midwest"), but which may not be either formally or functionally coherent as a region. Sometimes called a "vernacular region." Compare formal region; functional region.
Physical Reproduction - The ability to physically "return" tomorrow as healthy as one is today - that is to have enough food, shelter, clothing, rest, and so forth, so as to maintain one's health. Alternatively, physical reproduction is the act of producing an adequate physical substitute for oneself (i.e. making babies). Physical reproduction is only possible if a society has an adequate and stable system of social reproduction.
Place - A portion of geographical space occupied by a person or thing, and thus given meaning. Place is constructed out of interconnected processes operating at all scales, but which come together in a unique configuration in a particular location.
Political Culture - In geography, the idea that regions have relatively homogenous, stable, and long-lasting attitudes toward the nature of government and politics, and that these regional attitudes often differ in predictable ways from the attitudes of other regions.
Population - The number of people in a given area.
Positive Checks - For Malthus and Neo-Malthusians, those checks on population which ensue during a crisis of overpopulation; these might include, war, famine, disease, revolution, and so forth. Contrast negative checks.
Post-Fordism - In contrast to fordism, post-fordism is defined by smaller-scale, more flexible and individualized production, and the vertical disintegration of firms. There may be a greater emphasis on workers' abilities to perform a number of tasks, rather than the single, rote sort of work demanded by large-scale assembly work. In the US, post-fordism is often associated with the deindustrialization of places and regions.
Power - The real or presumed ability of a person, group or institution to exert force or influence, to make others do their bidding.
Primary Industry - Industry engaged in withdrawing resources directly from the earth, such as mining, tree-cutting, farming, or fishing. Compare secondary industry; tertiary industry; quaternary industry.
Privatization - The sale or transfer of public assets (including space) to private interests. The privatization of public space is an important issue because it changes the social rules for the use of that space.
Production - The process of making something. In general the term is used in this class to indicate the whole of economic activities in a given region or country, but it should be remembered that processes of production are complex and include spatial divisions of labor. Production is also only possible if there is successful social reproduction in a given society.
"Public" - As used in this class, "the public" refers to private citizens freely coming together in public space so as to deliberate on important political issues of the day. The idea of "the public" is an important aspect of American political ideology.
Public Space - Space either made available by government or private groups (or not well-controlled in the first place) for the use and pleasure of "the public" - for example, for political discussion and demonstrations, or for leisure and amusement. How public space is socially defined and the uses of it that are deemed appropriate in any given time or place are important issues for understanding the workings of politics in any society.
Pull Factors - In studies of migration, those factors that encourage immigration to a place. The perception of various pull factors is usually more important to individuals or groups contemplating migration than is the actuality of those factors. Contrast push factors.
Quaternary Industry - Economic activity generally referred to as "research and development" or "brain work," such as software writing, architectural design, or consulting. Quaternary industries are often the most footloose of all economic activities. Compare primary industry; secondary industry; tertiary industry.
Race - An ideology that assumes first that distinct divisions within humanity can be made on the basis of phenotypic or genotypic characteristics, and second that these distinctions are the cause of distinct differences in culture, intelligence, or behavior. The vast majority of biologist agree that there is no biological or genetic basis for race.
Range - The distance that interested consumers, on average, will travel to obtain a given good or service. Whereas the range of a carton of milk might be quite small (people are not willing to travel more than a mile or two to get it), the range of a concert grand piano might be very large (perhaps global, since those wishing and able to spend $150,000 on a piano might be willing to travel anywhere to purchase it). The idea of range is an essential concept in Central Place Theory. Compare threshold.
"Rational Economic Beings" - An assumption made in many models, particularly economic ones, that people rationally weight the costs and benefits of any action and always seek to maximize the benefits and minimize the costs in any given situation.
Region - An area in which people, places, or processes posses a common characteristic or characteristics that make it distinct from other areas; the things within the boundaries of the region have more in common with each other than they do with things outside the region. "Region" is both an intellectual device for ordering the chaotic world and a real thing created through processes analogous to those that create place. See also formal region; functional region; perceptual region; regionalization.
Regionalization - Either the process by which areas are categorized into regions by an analyst, or the actual construction of regions by economic, political, and social processes working over and through space and time and at all scales (as in the creation of the "sunbelt" as a region of the US possessing certain real economic characteristics that set it apart from the "rustbelt").
Relocation Diffusion - a process of diffusion in which an innovation moves from one place to another without leaving that innovation behind at the origin. In this sense, relocation diffusion is usually not expansion diffusion.
Rent Gap - The discrepancy between actual and potential rent (as predicted by bid-rent curves) in a particular location. In the Concentric Zone Model of the city, the rent gap is often found in the ring just outside the Central Business District. In real cities, it is often located in inner-city areas neighboring areas of rising land values. Thus the rent gap is an important inducement to gentrification.
Resource - Something of use to a person or group. The definition of "resource" is specific to particular places and times. To see nature as a resource implies a particular relationship with nature that can be distinguished from other ways of understanding nature.
Scale - The size of extent of a given process. Typically geographers refer to processes occurring at local, regional, national or global scales. To understand places it is often necessary to understand how different processes working at different scales come together in specific location, thereby creating, out of a set of general processes, a unique outcome.
Secondary Industry - Economic activity designed to make things; manufacturing. Secondary industries take raw materials (from primary industries) and already manufactured items (from other secondary industries) and assembles them into commodities. See also primary industry; tertiary industry; quaternary industry.
See-Saw Motion of Capital - A theory that holds that capitalists shift capital from one place to another, depending on labor and other costs, leading to development in places of active investment and underdevelopment in places of disinvestment. This process can be visualized as a see-saw in which resources, capital, and so forth from one seat are continually lifted out and placed on the other seat, until such time as diminishing returns on the investment side lead to a shift back toward the seat that has been disinvested, therbey tipping the see-saw back the other way. See also uneven development.
Site - The absolute, physical location of a place or thing. Site can be measured precisely (as with latitude and longitude) or accurately described in terms of its physical characteristics. Contrast situation.
Slow World - A term used to describe those places exhibiting low degrees of connectivity and marked by poor communications with the rest of the world, little inward investment, and a general state of under- or de-development. Contrast Fast World.
Social Justice - The distribution of burdens and benefits in a society - and the mechanisms by which this distribution comes about.
Social Reproduction - The maintenance, day in and day out, of the formal and informal social institutions that make physical reproduction in a given society possible. The term reproduction is used to indicate that these institutions have to be constantly made and remade, supported and solidified. Yet it is also the case that systems of social reproduction are always contested (as when workers challenge the existing institutions that support the labor-capital relationship within capitalism or when women challenge the formal and informal institutions that support and maintain patriarchy as an organizing principle in society). Thus struggles over social reproduction constantly reproduce and transform the structures of society within which we live. Struggles over social reproduction are instrumental in creating the geographies of which we are part, and in delineating regions, states, nations, and so forth.
Space - Most simply, area. Geographers distinguish "absolute" or abstract space - the sort of space that acts as a container for things; and "social" or "relative" space - the sort of space produced through social interaction. In this class we will be most concerned wit the latter, trying to understand how societies produce the spaces that underlie them (and how that space may in turn partially produce society. See also spatiality; place.
Spatial Data - Any information with a spatial component.
State - A territory with well-defined borders, and that is internationally recognized as sovereign. The term "state" is also a technical synonym for "government," so a state typically possesses the ability to tax, legislate, regulate, and expect allegiance of its subjects or citizens. A state is thus also a set of legal relationships between its citizens or subjects and its government. It creates and maintains the institutions that govern life in a territory - in that sense, the state is a key player in social reproduction. The current geopolitical system divides almost the whole of the earth's surface into a series of sovereign states. See also imperialism; nation; nation-state; nationalism.
Suburbanization - The development of suburbs and the movement of people to them. The process of suburbanization has been the dominant mode of urban development in the US at least since the turn of the twentieth century.
Suburb - Residential and commercial areas outside of city centers generally marked by relatively low population density (compared to cities), segregated land uses, and a reliance on personalized modes of transportation. Historically suburbs have been dependent on core cities, but that is less and less the case as all manner of economic activities have begun suburbanizing in the last half of this century.
Supra-state - Literally, larger than a state; an organization which takes on state functions (such as taxation, regulation, etc.) but operates at a scale larger than the nation-state. Contrast mini-state.
Surplus Population - The number of people in excess of the "productive needs of society" (i.e. available jobs). Marx used this idea to argue against Malthus's notion of overpopulation, suggesting that under capitalism, increasing surplus value was only possible if the total cost of wages was less than the exchange-value realized for goods produced. Hence, Marx argued that surplus population was in fact a necessary condition of capitalist production; without a surplus population, wages would rise too high, and the system of surplus value extraction would be threatened. In short, Marx argued that capitalism saw a certain level of unemployment as "good," and hence the system itself continually produced surplus population.
Surplus Value - The value of goods above and beyond the costs of making those goods. In capitalism, according to Marx, surplus value is produced by labor, not by the owners of the means of production. His argument is roughly that wages are always some degree less than the total value of goods a worker produces. The difference between that value and the wages is the surplus value. The owner of the means of production not the worker owns the surplus value produced under capitalism.
Swidden - A type of extensive agriculture where a patch of forest is cut down and burned to release nutrients into the soil; the plot of land is then planted with a variety of crops which produce relatively high yields (with little input of labor) in the first years, but which steadily decline in yield over time as nutrients are used up. When a field is no longer sufficiently productive, it is abandoned to fallow and the forest is allowed to re-colonize. In the meantime, as decline sets in on the first plot another patch is cleared, and the process begins again. Ultimately, the rotation of cleared plots in this fashion leads back to the original plot, which ideally by this time is ready to be cut and burned all over again. This agricultural technique is also called slash and burn and shifting cultivation.
Tertiary Industry - Generally referred to as "services," this sector of economic activity includes everything from retail and wholesale, transportation, utilities, and government services to restauranting, entertainment, banking, and insurance brokering. See also primary industry; secondary industry; quaternary industry.
Threshold - The number of potential customers necessary to support the sale of a particular good or service. For example, it takes relatively few people in an area to support the sale of a carton of milk (because so many people buy milk, and because they buy it so frequently), while it takes a huge number to support the sale of concert grand pianos (because so few people buy these, and they buy them so rarely). The idea of threshold is essential to Central Place Theory. Compare range.
Total Fertility Rate (TFR) - The number of children that an average women in a given society has over the course of her childbearing years.
Underdevelopment - The denial of development to a region, often through a process of active disinvestment from that region, or through the "mining" of that region's resources with little economic return to that region. The process of underdevelopment leaves a place with low levels of infrastructure, and the people marginal to the centers of geopolitical and geoeconomic power. The theory of uneven development and the idea of a see-saw motion of capital assumes that underdevelopment in one area is a necessary component of development in another area.
Uneven Development - The geographical expression of development under capitalism, where development in one place is interconnected with underdevelopment in another place. In general, this idea argues that differing areas develop (and underdevelop) at differing rates, thus creating on uneven geographical surface across which capital can move as it seeks the most advantageous location in terms of costs of labor, land, transportation, and so forth. See also see-saw motion of capital.
Urbanism - A way of life associated with urban areas.
Urbanization - The process of becoming urban. The term is usually used to describe either the processes by which cities and towns grow, or the dynamic processes through which people, ideas, and places become more defined by urban settings than by rural ones.
Vertical Integration - A system in which all or most sectors of a production process - from providing raw resources, or other inputs and manufacturing to marketing, and research and design - are integrated into a single large firm. Contrast vertical disintegration; see also primary industry, secondary industry, tertiary industry, quaternary industry; fordism.
Vertical Disintegration - The process whereby vertically integrated firms are dismantled and in which there is a greater reliance on "out-sourcing" and sub-contracting in place of services and activities formerly provided by branches within the firm. See also post-fordism.
Von Thunen Model - A model which describes patterns of commercial agriculture. Based on bid-rent curves, this model seeks to show why more intensive agriculture is located closer to market centers while extensive agriculture locates farther from those centers. The model makes a number of simplifying assumptions - such as the assumption of an isotropic plain and rational economic beings - in order to show the importance of land and transportation costs to the geography of commercial agriculture.
World City (Global City) - A city that has a high degree of centrality in relation to the world economy. World cities are sites for transnational and national corporate headquarters, national and international government institutions and NGOs, and are major locations for producer services. New York, London, and Tokyo are considered the three "top-tier" world cities. *
Zone of Transition - According to the Concentric Zone Model of the city, the Zone of Transition is just outside the Central Business District and is distinguished by active disinvestment (and maybe later gentrification) and land uses one would not expect on land that should be relatively highly valued. The Zone of Transition is where one is most likely to find a rent-gap.
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* Denotes Additions by Michael Longan Copyright 2006
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