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Chapter: 11th Geography : Chapter 1 : Fundamentals of Geography

Approaches to the Study of Geography

Geography has undergone several changes in its approach.

Approaches to the Study of Geography

Geography has undergone several changes in its approach. The earlier geographers were descriptive geographers. Later, geography came to be developed as an analytical science. Today the discipline is not only concerned with descriptions but also with analysis as well as prediction. There are two distinct approaches or methods to study geography. They are: Systematic approach and 2. Regional approach

Systematic Approach:

Systematic or nomothetic approach was introduced by Alexander Von Humbolt, a German geographer (1769-1859). In this approach a particular phenomenon is considered for detailed understanding. The study of specific natural or human phenomenon that gives rise to certain spatial patterns and structures on the earth surface is called systematic study. Generally, systematic geography is divided into four main branches.

1.        Physical Geography: Study of various elements of earth systems like atmosphere (air), hydrosphere (water), lithosphere (rock) and biosphere (life) and their distributions.

2.        Biogeography, including environmental geography: It focuses on various kinds of forests, grasslands, distribution of flora and fauna, human-nature relationships, quality of the living environment and its implications for human welfare.

3.        Human Geography: It describes the human culture, population, dynamic socio economic and political aspects.

4.        Geographical methods and techniques: It is concerned with methods and techniques for field studies, qualitative, quantitative and cartographic analysis.

Regional Approach:

It is otherwise called as ideographical approach. It was developed by Carl Ritter (1779 – 1859), a contemporary of Humbolt. The regions could be classified based on a single factor like relief, rainfall, vegetation, percapita income or there could also be multi-factor regions formed by the association of two or more factors. Administrative units like states, districts and taluks can also be treated as regions. The main sub branches of regional geography are : i) Regional studies ii) Regional analysis iii) Regional development and iv) Regional planning.

Geographical Data Matrix:

The matrixis a simple method of arranging information in rows and columns for better understanding of complex spatial problems. Brian J.L. Berry adopted this method from anthropology for studying geography more effectively.Geographic data can be arranged in a rectangular array or matrix. Row-wise group of variables represent the systematic or topical branches of geography while, regions are represented by columns. Berry has explained that regional synthesis could be derived with the help of a series of geographic matrices in correct temporal sequence. Each time period has been taken to be equivalent to a ‘slice’ of the three-dimensional cake. The diagram of ‘Third Dimension’ makes it possible to examine rows and columns, cutting across time.

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11th Geography : Chapter 1 : Fundamentals of Geography : Approaches to the Study of Geography |

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