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The importance of site is illustrated in this photo. The land adjacent to the Red River
was viewed as ideal for human occupation because it was flat, fertile, and adjacent
to a major water way. However, it is also prone to flooding. The Red River floods
thousands of acres of farmland as it overflows its banks. The river crested April 6,
1997, but the continued inflow from its tributaries is preventing the water level from
dropping at a regular rate.



H uman geography studies the ways in which people and

societies are regionally different in their distinguishing
characteristics. It seeks to understand the flow of people,
goods, and ideas from one region to another. Additionally, it
examines the ways that different societies perceive, use, and alters
features are the continuing background concern for geographers:
society and environment interactions (Chapter 12).
We shall pursue each of these views in separate sections of
this book and address the unifying interest of human impact on
the earth surface both as an integral part of each chapter and as
the landscapes they occupy. This wide range of interests would the topic of our concluding chapter. Throughout, we shall keep
seem to imply an unmanageable range and variety of topics. This returning to a small number of basic observations that underlie all
implication is misleading, however, for the diversified subject of human geographic study: (1) People and the societies they form
matter of human geography can be accommodated within the are differentiated by a limited set of cultural characteristics and
themes of geography identified in the first chapter. In part 1 of the organizational structures; (2) without regard to those cultural and
book, we devote specific attention to three of these themesthe organizational differences, human spatial behaviour has common
world in spatial terms, human systems, and regions and places. and recurring motivations and patterns; and (3) cultural variations
Two general views emerge from many of the problems facing and spatial actions are rooted in the distribution, number, and
our world today. The first is cultural and reflects how different movements of people.
social groups are characterized and comprise the individual pieces These observations are the concerns of the following two
of the human mosaic. Underlying this perspective are matters chapters, which focus further attention on the four themes of
related to learned behaviours, attitudes, and group beliefs that are geography. In Chapter 2, a general approach to research is pro-
fundamental and identifying features of specific social groups and vided. The second part of this chapter pursues the World in
larger societies. The second view concerns itself with the systems of Spatial Terms theme, and notes how maps can be used as a data
production, livelihood, spatial organization, and administration source as well as a tool to interpret information. Maps have been
and the institutions appropriate to those systemsthat a society an ongoing pursuit of geographers that has transcended cultures.
erects in response to opportunity, technology, resources, conflict, Chapter 3 examines three important themes in human
or the need to adapt and change. This second view recognizes what geographyhuman systems, regions, and places in the context of
the French geographers in the early twentieth century called genre globalization. The general physical and behavioural factors that
de viethe way of lifeof a population that might be adopted or influence spatial interaction are described. This understanding is
pursued no matter what the other intangible cultural traits of that an important first step in providing a geographical perspective on
society might be. Interwoven with and unifying these primary world, regional, and local processes and problems.


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To understand the research process
To understand the basic properties of maps and how they show data
To appreciate the power of geographic information systems

Some Specific Considerations for Review:

1. The sources of information, primary and secondary, which geographers use, pp. 3137.
2. How the Census of Canada is spatially organized and some problems of using census data,
pp. 3435.
3. Why geographers use maps, and how maps show location and spatial information, pp. 3751.
4. Other means of visualizing and analyzing spatial data: mental maps, remote sensing, GIS, and
models, p. 5155.


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T his chapter has two purposes. First, a general approach to
conducting research is described, and focuses attention
on two general approaches to reasoning, and the nature of
data. Second, we examine the properties of maps and how they can
(mis)represent information. Understanding the nature of research,
increased with income levelspoorer men lived 6.6 years and
women 3.6 years less than their higher income counterparts. How-
ever, determining the nature and extent of the link between place
and health has been a difficult research question, in part, because
(i) it is difficult to obtain data at the level of the individual (i.e.,
such as how questions are posed, research is designed, data are a scale problem); and (ii) the absence of appropriate statistical
collected and analyzed, and how maps are used to display results, methods (i.e., a technical or methodological problem) (Macintyre
are important to the development of critical thinking skills. et al., 2002). Rising to this type of research challenge is the
essence of the work of university and college professors, and
those who are involved in research in the public, private, and non-
government sectors.
A Research Question: Ross et al. (2004) became intrigued with the link between

What is the Influence of place and health and specifically posed the following question:
What were the neighbourhood effects (place effects) on health
Place on Human Health? within Montreal? Using data collected through the Canadian
Community Health Survey and the Census of Canada, and apply-
Human health reflects a complex interplay of two general charac- ing computer technology to handle large data sets, they applied
teristics: (i) individuals (e.g., age structure, genetic composition, statistical techniques to answer this research question. They
lifestyles, culture), and (ii) the circumstances in which they live found that neighbourhoods exerted an effect on health status
both environmental (e.g., exposure to pollution) and social (e.g. above and beyond the impact of individual risk factors, includ-
access to social services). There is a considerable body of research ing smoking, obesity, high stress, and a low sense of belonging
that has focused attention on the relationship among individual fac- to a community. This study is of specific interest to geographers
tors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, and income because it was conducted at two scalesthe individual and the
levels, on health. There has also been concerted and longstanding neighbourhood. Although the neighbourhood effect was found to
research to establish causal relationships between exposure to be small (about 3%) relative to individual factors (e.g., smoking,
different environmental conditions and health. However, there is obesity), they are significant because we can more easily improve
also growing concern about the nature and the extent of relation- the design of our communities (e.g., providing better spaces for
ships among urban form, people, the environment and health. walking and recreating) than change individual behaviours (e.g.,
The North American population is becoming increasingly obese. adopting and affording healthy lifestyles). Ross et al. also found
There are also increasing rates of asthma and depression. At the that poor health status was also associated with high levels of
same time, North American lifestyles are becoming increasingly self-perceived stress and a low sense of belonging to community.
sedentary, and this may be linked, in part, to the structure and Better community design can increase a persons sense of belong-
form of our communities. However, while there is suspicion about ing to a community. The form and structure of Montreal and
linkages between urban form (or place) and health, there has been many other Canadian cities promotes a high level of car usage,
little conclusive research. which leads to air pollution and a sedentary lifestyle. Achieving
This point is illustrated in the 2002 Annual Report on the healthy cities should be considered as a key goal for public policy
Health of Montrealers by the Rgie Rgionale de la Sant et and urban planning, and is an area where geographers can make a
des Service Sociaux de Montral-Centre. It revealed big gaps meaningful contribution.
in health indicators based on a persons socio-economic status We will return to this study later in this chapter. For now,
and place of residence (Figure 2.1). It found that life expectancy appreciate how research questions can develop from previous

FIGURE 2.1 Life expectancy maps for Montreal.

Source: 2002 Annual Report, A Profile of Health in Montreal.

The World in Spatial TermsGeographic Research and Maps 31

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research studies, how geography can contribute to public policy, in both approaches is to ensure the research question is clear and
and how there are a mix of challenges, in this case the problems of the appropriate data and analytical techniques are applied that
obtaining health data at the individual level and the initial absence truly test the idea being proposed.
of appropriate statistical tests, which must be overcome in a suc- Ethical considerations are a fundamental requirement that
cessful research project. researchers must consider. Everyone conducting research must
consider the ethical aspects. In Canada, the three major research
funding agenciesSocial Sciences and Humanities Research
The Research Process Council of Canada (SSHRC), Natural Sciences and Engineering
The research study above asked and answered some of the ques- Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Canadian Insti-
tions that lie at the core of geography: What is the pattern of tutes of Health Research (CIHR)have adopted a set of ethical
life expectancy in Montreal? What factors explain this pattern? principles (The Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethics in Research
What are the opportunities to improve current conditions? To with Human Subjects) to guide research (Table 2.1)
answer these types of questions, geographers develop knowl- The use of GIS presents some interesting questions related
edge by applying their techniques and skills in a systematic and to free and informed consent, and privacy. For instance, should a
rigorous manner. There are two general approaches to develop- researcher have access to a car navigation system to track a per-
ing knowledgeinductive and deductive reasoningboth of sons (or number of persons) daily travels without their consent?
which use a series of logical steps to explain the world around Whether or not consent is obtained, how can a persons privacy be
us (see Figure 2.2). However, they are different in that inductive maintained if their house location is shown on a map?
research looks at particular facts or events and sees if they can While each research effort has its own approach (e.g., induc-
be the basis for formulating a general rule or principle. The steps tive and deductive thinking), ethical considerations and practical
would generally follow from observations made by the researcher, issues (e.g. time and money available, working in remote places),
to patterns observed based on a categorization of the observa- a general research process would likely contain the following ele-
tions, to explanations. An example is the Demographic Transition ments: (1) clarifying the problem or question, (2) data collection,
theory, which will be described in Chapter 4. Deductive research (3) data analysis, and (4) making conclusions. The following sec-
more closely follows the scientific method. It starts with a sense tion will consider these four aspects in the context of geographic
that a general principle exists and research determines if it applies research.
in specific circumstances. Experiments are designed to prove the You are probably aware that problem solving is easier when
validity of the generalization. If it is shown to be valid, then a the problem is clearly defined. Before you think about what data
theory or law can be established. The development of the gravity you want to collect, ask why you are collecting it. To this end, think
model (Chapter 3) is an example of this type of thinking. The key about the many purposes that research projects can pursue. It is often


Perceptual Experiences Perceptual Experiences

Unordered Facts Views of the Real World Structure

Define, Classify, and Negative Establish a Model Positive

Measure the Real World Feedback Feedback
Develop a Hypothesis
Develop a Set of Ordered Facts
Develop a Research Design
Inductive Generalization
Collect Data
Establish Laws & Theory
Unsuccessful Verify Procedures
Establish Laws & Theory Successful

FIGURE 2.2 Inductive and deductive reasoning.

32 Some Key Themes in the Study of Human Geography

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Sometimes, descriptions can involve quantitative measure-
TABLE 2.1 ments in order to establish the strength of relationships.
Ethical Aspects of Research Explanation: Explanatory studies answer the question why,
The ethical principles that guide research in Canada and most such as why do people living in the east end of Montreal
applicable to research in human geography are: have higher mortality rates than those living in the west end?
Why do most people immigrating to Canada prefer to live in
Respect for Human Dignity: Aspires to protect the multiple
and interdependent interests of the personfrom bodily to
Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver?
psychological to cultural integrity. Forecasting and Prediction: The focus is on the future. What
will the health of people be if we do not change current urban
Respect for Free and Informed Consent: Requires that people
planning approaches? How will Canadians change their
not be forced or pressured into participating in research. This is
modes of daily travel if the price of gasoline doubles?
especially relevant where researchers had previously relied on
captive audiences for their subjectsprisons and universities. Assessment: Governments and businesses are often interested
This also means that prospective research participants must be in knowing if their programs are working effectively, effi-
fully informed about the procedures and risks involved in research ciently, and fairly. Defining these terms and determining how
and must give their consent to participate. to measure them is often a tricky task. For instance, should
Respect for Vulnerable Persons: Children, institutionalised persons
we measure the efficiency of a government program by how
or others who are vulnerable are entitled to protection and quickly ambulance services serve the public and at what cost?
special procedures to protect their interests. At a university, these We could also measure efficiency by how quickly people
procedures must be approved by the Ethics Board. receive required medical procedures. Alternatively, we might
ask people who are served by the program about their views
Respect for Privacy and Confidentiality: The researcher promises
of their own health (e.g., stress level) and the efficiency of the
participants that their identifying information will not be made
available to anyone who is not directly involved in the study. This
health care system. The overall state of a population can be
can sometimes take the form of anonymity, which essentially means measured directly by relying on quantitative indicators such
the participant will not be named or identified throughout the study. as mortality rates, life expectancy at birth, activity restric-
Clearly, the anonymity standard is a stronger guarantee of privacy, tions, and peoples perception of their own health.
but it is sometimes difficult to accomplish, especially in situations Prescription: Identifying changes that will improve the cur-
where participants have to be contacted several times during a study. rent situation, much like a doctor prescribes drugs to remedy
Respect for Justice and Inclusiveness: Justice connotes fairness and a disease, is a final general research objective. For instance,
equity. Procedural justice requires that the ethics review process how should urban form be changed in order to improve health
have fair methods, standards and procedures for reviewing research within a neighbourhood?
protocols, and that the process be effectively independent. Justice
also concerns the distribution of benefits and burdens of research. Having clarified the research question, a researcher is now
ready to collect data. There are two types of data sourcesprimary
Balancing Harms and Benefits: Harm can be defined as both and secondary. Primary data are collected by the researcher or a
physical and psychological. The analysis, balance and distribution member of the research team specifically for the research proj-
of harms and benefits are critical to the ethics of human research.
ect or program. Within this context, geographers will talk about
Modern research ethics, for instance, require a favourable harms-
collecting data or going to the field. Fieldwork in geogra-
benefits balancethat is, that the foreseeable harms should not
outweigh anticipated benefits. These concerns are particularly phy may involve anything from a walk around campus to Ph.D.
evident in biomedical and health research; in research they need research conducted on faraway places for a year or more. When
to be tempered in areas such as geography, political science, in the field, you must use your observation skills to their best
economics, or modern history (including biographies), areas advantage. Examples of primary data sources include question-
in which research may ethically result in the harming of the naires and social surveys, interviews, focus groups, observational
reputations of organizations or individuals in public life. techniques (e.g., people watching and participant observation),
and landscape analysis.
Rather than being collected by the researcher or their team,
secondary data are collected by somebody else or another
organization. Note that Ross et al. used secondary data sources,
helpful to clarify which specific purpose(s) your research seeks to
which indicates new analysis on secondary data is considered
achieve. Five common purposes found in geographic research are:
research. Geographers often use secondary data collected by
Description: A major purpose of geographic inquiry is to government agencies, private organizations (e.g., business reports
describe places or how people perceive places, the flow of and statements), or other academic researchers. Census data pro-
people, goods and/or services, events, and how humans inter- vided by Statistics Canada are an invaluable source of high quality
act with the environment. Describing the physical and human data (see The Census of Canada). Other examples of secondary
characteristics of a region, such as the pattern of mortality in sources include archives, historical accounts and images, newspa-
Montreal must be done systematically if it is to be considered pers, censuses, maps, and photographs.
research rather than journalism. Descriptive studies would Other federal government agencies (Health Canada, Environ-
answer questions related to what, where, when, and how. ment Canada), as well as provincial, territorial, and local government

The World in Spatial TermsGeographic Research and Maps 33

fel7005x_ch02_029-057.indd 33 1/23/09 5:43:40 PM

The Census of Canada and Its Geography
The first known census to be completed on following are the major subjects that Statis- The 2006 Census Geography
Canadian soil was initiated by Intendant Jean tics Canada can provide information on:
Talon in 1666. He recorded the age, gender, FIGURE 2.3a A dissemination block is an
marital status and occupation of the Colony Economy: Business enterprises, Commu- area bounded on all sides
of New Frances 3,215 inhabitants (excluding nications, Construction, Manufacturing, by roads and/or boundaries
the Iroquois, who had long lived in the area) National accounts, Prices and price indexes, of standard geographic
in order to aid its planning and development. Science and technology, Service industries, areas. The dissemination
Some 340 years later, 13.5 million households Trade, Transport and warehousing block is the smallest
responded to the census questionnaire issued Land and Resources: Agriculture, Energy, geographic area for
by Statistics Canada. Eighty percent of the Environment, Primary Industries which population and
households were asked in 2006 to respond People: Arts, culture and recreation, Edu- dwelling counts are disseminated.
to 8 questions, while the remaining 20% in cation, Health, Labour, Personal finance Source: Statistics Canada, http://geodepot.statcan
southern portions of the country responded and household finance, Population and
to an additional 53 questions. Since sampling demography, Social conditions, Travel and FIGURE 2.3b The dissemination area is
would not produce accurate results for small tourism a small, relatively stable geographic unit
populations, all households in northern areas, Nation: Government, Justice composed of one or more dissemination
remote areas, and Indian reserves, completed Statistical Methods and Reference: blocks. It is the smallest standard geographic
the longer questionnaire. The census contin- Geography, Reference, Statistical methods area for which all census data are
ues to help governments and businesses plan disseminated. They usually have populations
for the future. The quality of the data is very good of 400 to 700 people. The Dissemination
Section 8 of The Constitution Act of 1867 because of the high response rate and the Area that comprises the Census Subdivision
(formerly The British North America Act) efforts of officials at Statistics Canada who of Maple Ridge (B.C.) is shown below.
required that a census be taken in 1871. Since collect and analyze the information. In 2006, Source: http://geodepot.statcan.ca/Diss/Reference/
that time, decennial census data (called a full just over 18% of all respondents completed COGG/Index_e.cfm.
census) have provided the cornerstone for rep- their survey onlinethe first time this option
resentative government. Beginning in 1906, was made available. This development will
the prairie provinces of Manitoba, Alberta, reduce the time required to process and
and Saskatchewan began to take a separate release census data, which has been some-
census of agriculture every five years to what problematic in the past.
monitor the growth of the West. Since 1956, Census data are available at various
the Census of Agriculture and the Census of scales, ranging from a city block to the entire
Population have been taken together every country. Key features of its geography are as
five years across the entire country. The follows.

Dissemination area (400700 people)

within Maple Ridge, British Columbia

agencies also publish substantial amounts of information, as do per square kilometre. In 1931, all incorporated cities, towns, and
other national governments, and international organizations (United villages in Canada, regardless of population size or density, were
Nations, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development defined as urban. Other problems can also be encountered. A
(OECD)). Information can range from statistics on transportation, social geography project on Aboriginal populations would have to
to public attitudes on topics such as immigration, transportation be sensitive to the changing definition of the term Aboriginal,
preferences, and perceptions of health and environmental manage- and changes to the wording of census questions, and patterns of
ment. Most research projects begin with a search of secondary self-identification. Mtis were not included in the census until
sources in order to find out what is already known about a topic and 1981, and only patrilineal descent (male) was counted until 1981.
what questions remain to be asked/answered. In areas where there is a small population, Statistics Canada will
One must be careful when using secondary data, even those protect the confidentiality of individual responses by applying
that are of high quality such as Canadian Census data, in order random rounding to data (especially socio-economic data). In
to realize their strengths, weaknesses, and idiosyncrasies. For some instances, this means that some of these census tracts appear
instance, if you were doing a project on Canadian cities, you to have zero persons with certain characteristics. However, you
would want to make sure you know how urban areas are defined cannot be sure if this is the case or if it is due to random rounding.
by the census over time. In 2006, an urban area was defined as Go to the Statistics Canada website at www.statcan.ca/start.html
having a population of at least 1,000 and no fewer than 400 people to find more about the quality of census data.

34 Some Key Themes in the Study of Human Geography

fel7005x_ch02_029-057.indd 34 1/23/09 5:43:40 PM

Maple Ridge


Maple Ridge Consolidated Subdivision

FIGURE 2.3c Census tracts are small, relatively stable geographic areas
that usually have a population of 2,500 to 8,000. They are located in census
metropolitan areas (CMAs) and in census agglomerations with an urban core
population of 50,000 or more in the previous census. Census subdivision is
the general term for municipalities (as determined by provincial legislation) Census DivisionGreater Vancouver Regional District
or areas treated as municipal equivalents for statistical purposes (for
example, Indian reserves, Indian settlements, and unorganized territories). A FIGURE 2.3d Census division is the general term for
census consolidated subdivision (Figure 2.3d) is a group of adjacent census provincially legislated areas (such as county, municipalit
subdivisions. Generally, the smaller, more urban census subdivisions (towns, rgionale de comt, and regional district) or their equivalents.
villages, etc.) are combined with the surrounding larger, more rural census Census divisions are intermediate geographic areas between
subdivisions in order to create a geographic level between the census the province level and the municipality (census subdivision).
subdivision and the census division. A census metropolitan area (CMA) or a Source: Statistics Canada Geography Division, 2008, http://geodepot.
census agglomeration (CA) is formed by one or more adjacent municipalities
centred on a large urban area (known as the urban core). A CMA must have
a total population of at least 100,000 of which 50,000 or more must live in
the urban core. A CA must have an urban core population of at least 10,000. FIGURE 2.3f An economic region (ER) is a grouping
To be included in the CMA or CA, other adjacent municipalities must have of complete census divisions (with one exception in
a high degree of integration with the central urban area, as measured by Ontario) created as a standard geographic unit for
commuting flows derived from census place of work data. analysis of regional economic activity. Note that the size
Source: Statistics Canada Geography Division, 2008, http://geodepot.statcan.ca/Diss/ of an ER relates to population densities, which explains
the large regions in the north and the small sizes in the
south of the country.
Source: http://geodepot.statcan.ca/Diss/Reference/COGG/

Census Division

FIGURE 2.3e In 2006, there were 288

census divisions (Figure 2.2e), 5,418 census
subdivisions, as well as all 33 census metropolitan
areas and 111 census agglomerations.

The World in Spatial TermsGeographic Research and Maps 35

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Another way of classifying data is the distinction made between a variety of disciplines, came to geography in the 1980s. They
quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative studies often apply are often used by feminist geographers (see Feminist Geography
a deductive research approach in order to test and verify hypotheses, Research Methods). Unlike quantitative methods, which use
and develop models (e.g., gravity model). As mentioned in Chapter statistics and mathematical modelling to generalize, predict, and
1, quantitative geographers often examine patterns and flows on control spatial patterns and relationships, qualitative methods pro-
the landscape. In contrast, the behavioural geographers focus atten- mote understanding of how the world is viewed, experienced, and
tion on the behaviour of people (e.g., individuals, managers, and constructed. In other words, these methods help geographers inves-
business people). They believe that how each person perceives and tigate the motives, goals, and social relationships of individuals
experiences the landscape reflects differences in a persons ability and groups that help to explain how human landscapes, places, and
to gather and organize information. It is the perceived landscape events are created and represented. Interviews are used to elicit
that emerges from this process that is of interest to behaviouralists. information from individuals or groups and may range widely in
Rather than asking questions about what kind of interaction and/or terms of number of people questioned, duration of the interview,
landscape should be created on the basis of economic or other nor- and the length and type of questions posed. Observations may take
mative laws, behaviouralists ask why people do (or do not) conduct a variety of forms, ranging from participant observationwhereby
certain activities. Perceptual data (quantitative data) were obtained the geographer observes through direct engagement with a people
by behavioural geographers from people often through question- or placeto passive observationwhereby the geographer does
naires and perceptual tests. Respondents were often grouped into not actively engage or encounter the site or people, and merely
categories (e.g., floodplain resident, socio-economic status, level observes non-obtrusivelyto personal reflectionthe geographer
of experience with issue) and statistical analysis is commonly per- records his or her impressions after experiencing a particular place
formed. Like the quantitative geographers, behaviouralists wanted or social event. The interpretation of texts also provides a means
to provide general explanations and develop laws and theories. of understanding the human geographical condition. By critically
Explaining how humans adjust to hazards, and why certain land interpreting the content and social construction of images and
use patterns in urban and agricultural existed on landscapes, are writings (e.g., advertisements, diaries, films, literature, maps, news-
two examples of the behaviouralist paradigm in geography. How- papers, even song lyrics), geographers can gain rich insights into
ever, note that both types of geographers are obtaining different how humans view, experience, and represent their world. Whether
types of quantitative data. to use quantitative methods, qualitative methods, or some combina-
Data may also be provided through qualitative methods tion of the two, depends upon the kind of questions posed, the kind
interviews, observations, journal accounts, and interpretations. From of knowledge sought, and the philosophical and methodological
these sources, a researcher can tease out how emotional, aesthetic, disposition of the geographer.
and symbolic factors that bind people and place. This set of tools Data analysis is the third step of the research process. At
interviews, observations, and textual interpretationsdeveloped in this stage, the researcher reviews the data that has been obtained,

Feminist Geography Research Methods

In conducting their research, particularly in of one source with the strengths of another. (e.g., I, me) to remind both the writer and
the areas of urban, social, and development Table 2.2 compares key elements of tradi- the reader that an actual person has lived
geography, feminist geographers questioned tional and feminist research approaches, and through the events associated with the words
whether there was a better way to apply the illustrates some of the contributions feminists and sentences, and that this experience can
established methodsquestionnaires, inter- have made to methodology. be very different from another person who
views, and case studies. For instance, they Feminists have been recently applying lived through those same events. Feminist
found the phrase administer a question- quantitative methods, including GIS. Kwan methods are not that unique in the sense that
naire somewhat annoying because it implied (2002: 650) suggested that feminist geogra- other approaches will also use qualitative
that a researcher had to be distant from phers using GIS methods can experiment and techniques. However, feminist research is
the research subject in order to remain create new visual practices, especially those distinguished in its ways of knowing, ways
objective. Feminists and others, including that can better represent gendered spaces of asking, ways of interpreting, and ways
post-modernists and post-colonialists, were and help construct different spectator posi- of writing (Women and Geography Study
critical of the traditional research process and tions when compared to conventional GIS Group of the IBG, 1997: 109). The methods
power dynamics that distanced researchers methods. are used in ways meant to challenge gen-
from subjects. The most common approach These techniques also carry over to the der differences and unequal gender relations
to feminist research has been to apply qualita- writing of feminist geographers. While both within the practice of geography, and
tive methods, and like most researchers, often writing in the third person has been the stan- outside in the larger society, with the intent to
apply multiple data sources and/or analyses dard rule of academic writing, feminists help change for the better.
in order to compensate for the weaknesses advocate the use of the first person singular

36 Some Key Themes in the Study of Human Geography

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Feminist Geography Research Methods continued

A Comparison of Traditional and Feminist Methods
General Research Stage Traditional (Patriarchal) Alternative (Feminist)

Nature of Research Question Limited, specialized, specific, exclusive. Test Broad, inclusive. Develop an understanding of
hypothesis in order to contribute to theory peoples experiences.
Data Reports of attitudes and behaviours obtained Feelings, behaviours, thoughts, insights, actions as
through questionnaires, interviews, and witnessed or experienced by people obtained
archive records. Mode of data collection through interviews, questionnaires, archive
determined prior to conduct of research. records, journals. Mode of data collection
determined by context of research.
Data analysis Determined prior to research. Deductive Done during data collection. Relies on development of
approach. Completed when all data are ideas. Inductive approach.
collected. Statistical analysis.
Analysis/Presentation Format A research report describing hypothesis, data A story or a description which includes documentation
collection methods, form of analysis, and of the research processdata collection and how
conclusions. Objective. patterns were foundand emergent concepts.
Subjective, assumes peoples interpretations are valid.

Source: Adapted from Reinharz, S. (1983). Experiential Analysis: A Contribution to Feminist Research. In Theories of Womens Studies, edited by Gloria Bowles and Renate Duelli
Klein, 162191. Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

and decides what it contributes to the answering of the research critical information and to suppress detail of lower priority. All car-
questions. Analysis can take many forms including describing the tography seeks to portray the complex, three-dimensional world on a
context or processes of something (e.g., a government program), flat sheet of paper or on a television or video screen. In short . . . all
classifying data into categories (e.g., a map of a citys different maps must tell white lies (Monmonier, 1996: xi). A map is a two
cultures), drawing graphs, or completing statistical analysis. The dimensional spatial representation of any part of our world.
last stage of the research process is to make conclusions based on Our attention for the remainder of this subsection are on map
the evidence (data and analysis) that has been collected. This will projections, map features (e.g., scale), types of map, and how
be influenced by ones philosophy as illustrated by the age-old data may be portrayed on maps. We shall learn that maps can
problem of determining if a glass of water is half full or half empty. serve their purpose only if their users have a clear idea of their
While both responses are correct, they provide different interpreta- strengths, limitations, and diversity, and the conventions used
tions. A universal guide in making conclusions is to ensure that they in their preparation and interpretation. Knowledge of maps can
answer the questions that were initially posed by the research and assist geographers in both gathering and interpreting data, and
are adequately supported by the evidence. To better illustrate how influencing how others interpret their work.
four research steps may be used to organize a commentary on the
research completed by Ross et al., see Thinking about Research.
Map Projections
A map projection is simply a system for displaying the curved
Maps surface of the earth on a flat sheet of paper. The definition is easy;
the process is more difficult. No matter how one tries to flatten
We now turn our attention to a longstanding and important tool that the earth, it can never be done in such a fashion as to show all earth
geographers frequently employ in presenting their resultsmaps. details in their correct relative sizes, shapes, distances, or direc-
Geographer H. J. de Blij has suggested that if a picture is worth a tions. Something is always wrong, and the cartographersthe
thousand words, a map can be worth a millionbut beware because mapmakerstask is to select and preserve those earth relation-
they can distort reality (as contained in Monmonier, 1996: xi). ships important for the purpose at hand, and to minimize or
All mapmakers use generalization and symbolization to highlight accept those distortions that are inevitable but unimportant.

The World in Spatial TermsGeographic Research and Maps 37

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Thinking about Research:
The Influence of Place on Human Health
Below is a description, based on the four key inconsistency is common to many research at least most of the factors influencing the
steps of research: clarifying the problem, projects and is difficult to remove. dimensions of health.
data collection, data analysis, and interpre-
tation. As you become more familiar with (2) Data Collection (3) Data Analysis
the concepts, methods, and findings of a Ross et al.s primary data source was sec- We will not describe the analysis in detail
research area, you will be able to extend the ondary and quantitativethe 2000/2001 heremany of you will take (or have to take)
comments from descriptive to a constructive Canadian Community Health Survey, which statistics courses in upper years. Suffice it
commentary. is a comprehensive national survey that con- to say that a combination of statistical and
tains information on health outcomes as well GIS techniques allowed them to establish the
(1) Clarifying the Problem or Questions
as behavioural and socio-economic informa- validity of their definition of neighbourhood,
In the study by Ross et al., their purpose tion at an individual level. Within Montreal, and then measure its effect on the HUI.
was to describe and measure the relationship there was a sample of 1,652 respondents
between neighbourhood effects and health in aged 25 to 64 to the survey. Data collected (4) Making Conclusions
Montreal. A key geographic question Ross included age, gender, smoking, obesity,
Three major conclusions were made from the
et al. considered carefully pertained to the stress, sense of community belonging, and
information provided above:
meaning of the word neighbourhood and household income. Ross et al. measured
how should/could it be measured? There health outcomes using a health utilities index individual risk factors (smoking, obesity,
are many reasonable responses to the first (HUI), which is based on a respondents self- high stress, low household income, low
question and many constraints to its proper reporting of health across eight dimensions: sense of community belonging) have sig-
measurement. Ross et al. used boundar- vision, hearing, speech, mobility, dexterity, nificant negative effects on HUI
ies suggested by local government and cognition, emotion, and pain. To measure about 3% of variation in health status
real estate boards, which are published in the influence of neighbourhoods, data were was attributed to neighbourhoods
the book le Direction de Lhabitation. This obtained from the 1996 Census of Canada future research is required to pursue the
source defined 88 neighbourhoods on the for the following variables: proportion of extent and nature of the neighbourhood
Island of Montreal. Since this source did not single-parent families, proportion of recent influence
cover the entire area, Ross et al. used the immigrants, education level, and median
census subdivisions, which are developed by household income of the area. Thus, an
Source: Ross, N.A., S. Tremblay, and K. Graham. (2004).
Statistics Canada, to define the additional 20 underlying assumption of the research was Neighbourhood Influences on Health in Montreal,
neighbourhoods in Montreal. This type of that these variables ideally captured all, or Canada. Social Science and Medicine 59: 14851494.

Round Globe to Flat Map world map, we must decide on a way to flatten the globes curved
surface on the hemisphere we can see. Then we have to cut the
The best way to model the earths surface accurately, of course, globe map down the middle of its hidden hemisphere and place
would be to show it on a globe. But globes are not as convenient the two back quarters on their respective sides of the already
to use as flat maps and do not allow one to see the entire surface visible front half. In simple terms, we have to peel the map from
of the earth all at once. Nor can they show very much of the the globe and flatten it in the same way we might try to peel an
detailed content of areas. Even a very large globe of, say, 1 metre orange and flatten the skin. Inevitably, the peeling and flattening
in diameter, compresses the physical or cultural information of process will produce a resulting map that either shows tears or
some 130,000 square kilometres of earth surface into a space breaks in the surface (Figure 2.5a) or is subject to uneven stretch-
2.5 centimetres on a side. ing or shrinking to make it lie flat (Figure 2.5b).
Geographers make two different demands on the maps they
use to represent reality. One requirement is to show at one glance
generalized relationships and spatial content of the entire world; ProjectionsGeometrical and Mathematical
the many world maps used in this and other geography textbooks
and in atlases have that purpose. The other need is to show the Of course, mapmakers do not physically engage in cutting, peel-
detailed content of only portions of the earths surfacecities, ing, flattening, or stretching operations. Their task, rather, is
regions, countries, hemisphereswithout reference to areas out- to construct or project on a flat surface the network of paral-
side the zone of interest. Although the needs and problems of both lels and meridians (the graticule) of the globe grid. The idea
kinds of maps differ, each starts with the same requirement: to of projections is perhaps easiest visualized by thinking of a
transform a curved surface into a flat one. transparent globe with an imagined light source located inside.
If we look at the globe directly, only the frontthe side Lines of latitude and longitude (or of coastlines or any other
facing usis visible; the back is hidden (Figure 2.4). To make a features) drawn on that globe will cast shadows on any nearby

38 Some Key Themes in the Study of Human Geography

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FIGURE 2.4 An orthographic projection gives us a visually realistic
view of the globe; its distortion toward the edges suggests the normal (a)
perspective appearance of a sphere viewed from a distance. Only a single
hemisphereone half of the globecan be seen at a time, and only the
central portion of that hemisphere avoids serious distortion of shape.

surface. A tracing of that shadow globe grid would represent a

geometrical map projection.
In geometrical (or perspective) projections, the graticule
is in theory visually transferred from the globe to a geometrical
figure, such as a plane, cylinder, or cone, which, in turn, can be
cut and then spread out flat (or developed ) without any stretch-
ing or tearing. The surfaces of cylinders, cones, and planes are
said to be developable surfacescylinders and cones can be cut
and laid flat without distortion and planes are flat at the outset FIGURE 2.5 (a) A careful peeling of the map from the globe yields
(Figure 2.6). In actuality, geometrical projections are constructed a set of tapered gores which, although individually not showing much
stretching or shrinking, do not collectively result in a very useful or
not by tracing shadows but by the application of geometry and the
understandable world map. (b) It is usually considered desirable to avoid
use of lines, circles, arcs, and angles drawn on paper. In a planer or reduce the number of interruptions by depicting the entire global
projection, a portion of the earths surface is transformed from a surface as a single flat circular, oval, or rectangular shape. That continuity of
perspective point to a flat surface. In polar areas, lines of latitude area, however, can be achieved only at the cost of considerable alteration
are represented by a system of concentric circles sharing a com- of true shapes, distances, directions, or areas. Although the homolographic
mon point of origin from which radiate the lines of longitude, (Mollweide) projection shows areas correctly, it distorts shapes.
spaced at true angles. This type of projection shows true direction Source: Redrawn with permission from American Congress Surveying and Mapping,
only between the centre point and other locations on the map. Choosing a World Map. Special Publication No. 2 of the American Cartographic
Association, Bethesda, Md. Copyright 1988 American Congress on Surveying and Mapping.
The location of the theoretical light source in relation to the
globe surface can cause significant variation in the projection of
the graticule on the developable geometric surface. An ortho- Each projection scheme, however, presents a different
graphic projection results from placement of the light source at arrangement of the globe grid to minimize or eliminate some
infinity. A gnomonic projection is a type of planer projection, of the distortions inherent in projecting from a curved to a flat
and is produced when the light source is at the centre of the earth. surface. Every projection represents a compromise or deviation
When the light is placed at the antipodethe point exactly oppo- from reality to achieve a selected purpose, but in the process
site the point of tangency (point of contact between globe and of adjustment or compromise, each inevitably contains specific,
map)a stereographic projection is produced (Figure 2.7). accepted distortions.

The World in Spatial TermsGeographic Research and Maps 39

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FIGURE 2.8 These three figures are all equal in area despite their
FIGURE 2.6 The theory of geometrical projections. The three common different dimensions and shapes.
geometric forms used in projections are the plane, the cylinder, and the
in agriculture in two different parts of the world, for example, it
would be very misleading visually to use a map that represented
the same amount of surface area at two different scales. To retain
the needed size comparability, our chosen projection must assure
that a unit area drawn anywhere on it will always represent the
same number of square kilometres (or similar units) on the earths
surface. To achieve equivalence, any scale change that the projec-
tion imposes in one direction must be offset by compensating
changes in the opposite direction. As a result, the shape of the
portrayed area is inevitably distorted. A square on the earth, for
example, may become a rectangle on the map, but that rectangle
has the correct area (Figure 2.8). A map that shows correct areal
relationships always distorts the shapes of regions, as Figure 2.9a

Although no projection can reproduce correct shapes for large
areas, some do accurately portray the shapes of small areas. These
FIGURE 2.7 The effect of light source location on planar surface true-shape projections are called conformal, and the importance
projections. Note the variations in spacing of the lines of latitude that of conformality is that regions and features look right and have
occur when the light source is moved. the correct directional relationships. They achieve these proper-
ties for small areas by assuring that lines of latitude and longitude
cross each other at right angles and that the scale is the same in all
directions at any given location. Both these conditions exist on the
Globe Properties and Map globe but can be retained for only relatively small areas on maps.

Distortions Because that is so, the shapes of large regionscontinents, for

exampleare always different from their true earth shapes even
on conformal maps. Except for maps for very small areas, a map
Not all of the true properties of the global grid can ever be
cannot be both equivalent and conformal; these two properties
preserved in any single projection; projections invariably distort
are mutually exclusive, as Figure 2.9b suggests.
some or all of them. The result is that all flat maps, whether
geometrically or mathematically derived, also distort in differ-
ent ways and to different degrees some or all of the four main Distance
properties of actual earth surface relationships: area, shape, dis- Distance relationships are nearly always distorted on a map, but
tance, and direction. some projections do maintain true distances in one direction or
along certain selected lines. True distance relationships simply
mean that the length of a straight line between two points on
Area the map correctly represents the great circle distance between
Cartographers use equal-area, or equivalent, projections when those points on the earth. (An arc of a great circle is the shortest
it is important for the map to show the areas of regions in cor- distance between two points on the earths curved surface; the
rect or constant proportion to earth realityas it is when the equator is a great circle and all meridians of longitude are half
map is intended to show the actual areal extent of a phenomenon great circles.) Projections with this property can be designed, but
on the earths surface. If we wish to compare the amount of land even on such equidistant maps true distance in all directions is

40 Some Key Themes in the Study of Human Geography

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(c) (b)

FIGURE 2.9 Sample projections demonstrating specific map properties. (a) The equal-area sinusoidal projection retains everywhere the property of
equivalence. (b) The mathematically derived Mercator projection is conformal, displaying true shapes of individual features but greatly exaggerating sizes
and distorting shapes away from the equator. (c) A portion of an azimuthal equidistant projection, polar-case. Distances from the centre (North Pole) to any
other point are true; extension of the grid to the Southern Hemisphere would show the South Pole infinitely stretched to form the circumference of the map.

shown only from one or two central points. Distances between all classrooms across Canada during your parents school days, has
other locations are incorrect and, quite likely, greatly distorted as had a profound influence how they and others perceive the world
Figure 2.9c clearly shows. (Figure 2.10a). It was developed in 1569 by Gerardus Mercator
as a navigation aid because direction is maintained on the map.
Draw a line between two points and that provides a compass
Direction direction for the trip. However, this benefit comes at a costthe
As is true of distances, directions between all points on a map amount of distortion increases as you move away from the equa-
cannot be shown without distortion. On azimuthal projections, tor. This means that countries such as Canada and the northern
however, true directions are shown from one central point to all hemispheres continents, appear much larger than they are relative
other points. (An azimuth is the angle formed at the beginning to equatorial countries and the continents of the southern hemi-
point of a straight line, in relation to a meridian.) Directions or sphere, which are located relatively closer to the equator. This map
azimuths from points other than the central point to other points appeared not only in classrooms but was frequently seen in news-
are not accurate. The azimuthal property of a projection is not papers, books, and atlases. Thus, the Mercator projection became
exclusivethat is, an azimuthal projection may also be equiv- the mental map of the world for Canadians and people living in
alent, conformal, or equidistant. The azimuthal equal-distance the northern hemisphere. This was seen as a distinct but inap-
(equidistant) map shown as Figure 2.9c is, as well, a true- propriate geographic advantage of the colonial (European) powers
direction map from the same North Pole origin. over their many colonies located in the southern hemisphere. In
There has been considerable debate within the cartographic response, it was argued that the Mercator Map should only be
community about which map projection is best. The Mercator used for navigation, and that the Gall-Peters Map (Figure 2.10b)
projection, which was frequently placed as wall maps in most should be used for used for other purposes because it preserves

The World in Spatial TermsGeographic Research and Maps 41

fel7005x_ch02_029-057.indd 41 1/23/09 5:44:03 PM

(b) Gall-Peters Projection

(a) Mercator Projection

(c) Robinson Projection (d) Winkel-Tripel Projection

FIGURE 2.10 The Mercator, Gall-Peters, Robinson, and Winkel-Tripel Map Projections.
Peter H. Dana/08

area. Originally developed in 1855 by James Gall and popularized affected Canada by overemphasizing its northern extent and either
Arno Peters in 1973, this projection, like the Mercator, utilizes a distorts the shape of high latitude areas or makes them appear
rectangular coordinate system but distorts shape, area, scale, and very remote (Figure 2.11).
distance. Since it better represents the size of countries, intense
lobbying occurred to have the Gall-Peters adopted as the map
of the world. The United Nations Development Programme
A Cautionary Reminder
responded and adopted it in its publications. In truth, neither the Mapmakers must be conscious of the properties of the projec-
Gall-Peters nor the Mercator maps provide an accurate represen- tions they use, selecting the one that best suits their purposes. It
tation of the worldonly the globe can do that! A compromise is not ever possible to transform the globe into a flat map without
projection is the Robinson projection (Figure 2.10c), developed in distortion. But cartographers have devised hundreds of possible
1963 by Arthur H. Robinson. While the projection is neither equal mathematical and geometrical projections in various modifica-
area nor conformal, it produced a more appealing visualization. tions and aspects to display to their best advantage the variety of
In 1988, The National Geographic Society adopted the Robinson earth features and relationships they wish to emphasize. Some
projection for its publications. It switched 10 years later to the projections are highly specialized and properly restricted to a sin-
Winkel-Tripel projection (Figure 2.10d), which is a modification gle limited purpose; others achieve a more general acceptability
of the Robinson projection. It was developed to minimize distor- and utility.
tion relative to shapes, distances, and perspective. If the map shows only a small area, the choice of a projection is
The previous discussion suggest that Canada can be mapped a not criticalvirtually any can be used. The choice becomes more
number of ways. The distortion of shape and area in high latitudes important when the area to be shown extends over a considerable
that is commonly associated with cylindrical projections has longitude and latitude; then the selection of a projection clearly

42 Some Key Themes in the Study of Human Geography

fel7005x_ch02_029-057.indd 42 1/23/09 5:44:06 PM




FIGURE 2.11 Canada Portrayed by Different Map Projections. (a) Transverse Mercator Projection is a cylindrical projection and is conformal. It is
often used for mapping continents and oceans, equatorial and mid-latitude, and areas with a reasonably large north-south extent. It is used for the
1:250,000 and 1:50,000 National Topographic System series in Canada (to be discussed very soon), in part because it is relatively easy to match
the edges of maps. The USGS also uses this type of projection for its topographic map series. (b) Gnomonic Azimuthal Projection is a type of planer
map. It maintains (with some limitations) equidistance and true direction. It is well suited for mapping the World (with some limitations), hemispheres,
equatorial and mid-latitude areas, continents and oceans, large regions and seas, and polar areas. This type of map is generally used for topographic
and navigation purposes, and by the United States Geological Survey, which supplies base and thematic maps covering the United States of America.
(c) Lambert Conformal Conic Projection is conformal and maintains true direction (with some limitations). It is particularly well suited for mapping the
continents/ oceans, equatorial and mid-latitude areas, and areas with a reasonably large east-west extent. It is often used to map large countries.
Source: Reproduced with the permission of the Ministry of Public Works and Government Services, 2008. Map Projections, Atlas of Canada, http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/

depends on the purpose of the map. As we have seen, Mercator or While selection of an appropriate projection is the task
gnomonic projections are useful for navigation. If numerical data of the cartographer, understanding the consequences of that
are being mapped, the relative sizes of the areas involved should be selection and recognizing and allowing for the distortions inevi-
correct, and equivalence is the sought-after map property. Confor- table in all flat maps are the responsibility of the map reader.
mality and equal distance may be required in other instances. When skilfully designed maps are read by knowledgeable users,

The World in Spatial TermsGeographic Research and Maps 43

fel7005x_ch02_029-057.indd 43 1/23/09 5:44:17 PM

clear and accurate conveyance of spatial information and earth lines drawn on the world maps in this and other books or atlases
relationships is made convenient and natural. would cover many kilometres or miles on the earths surface.
They obviously distort the reality they are meant to define, and on
small-scale maps major distortion is inevitable. In fact, a general
Map Scale rule of thumb is that the larger the earth area depicted on a map,
the greater is the distortion built into the map.
We have already seen in Chapter 1 that scale (page 18) is a vital
element of every map. Because it is a much reduced version of
the reality it summarizes, a map generalizes the data it displays.
Scale the relationship between size or length of a feature on the
The Globe Grid
map and the same item on the earths surfacedetermines the Maps have been geographers longstanding primary tools. With
amount of that generalization. The smaller the scale of the map, the advent of GIS, they are now used in an even greater variety of
the larger is the area it covers and the more generalized are the ways including as equivalents to notebooks for listing observations,
data it portrays. The larger the scale, the smaller is the depicted as rough notes, for classifying data, for displaying draft results as
area and the more accurately can its content be represented patterns, and finally as a means of visualizing spatial conclusions.
(Figure 2.12). An easy way to remember the distinction between All spatial analysis starts with locations, and all absolute locations
small scales and large scales is to compare the numerical value are related to the global grid of latitude and longitude. The key ref-
of the representative fraction. The larger the fractional value, the erence points in the grid system are the North and South poles and
larger the scale (e.g., 1:25,000 is larger than 1:50,000). the equator, which are given in nature, and the prime meridian,
Map scale is selected according to the amount of general- which is agreed on by cartographers. Because a circle contains
ization of data that is acceptable and the size of area that must 360 degrees, the distance between the poles is 180 degrees and
be depicted. The user must consider map scale in evaluating the between the equator and each pole, 90 degrees (Figure 2.13).
reliability of the spatial data that are presented. Regional boundary Latitude measures distance north and south of the equator (0 ),

Scale 1:250,000 Scale 1:50,000

FIGURE 2.12 The effect of scale on area and detail. These two maps of Squamish, B.C. are from the NTS series and are scales of 1:250,000 and 1:50,000.
NTS stands for the National Topographic System which provides topographic map coverage of Canada at scales of 1:500,000, 1:250,000, 1:125,000,
1:50,000, and 1:25,000. The larger the scale, the greater the number and kinds of features that can be included on the map. Scale can be reported in one
(or more) of three ways. A verbal scale is given in words (1 centimetre to 1 kilometre or 1 inch to 1 mile). A representative fraction (such as that placed
at the left, below each of the maps above) is a statement of how many linear units on the earths surface are represented by one unit on the map. A graphic
scale (such as that placed at the right and below each of the maps above) is a line or bar marked off in map units but labelled in ground units.
Source: 2006. Produced under licence from Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, with permission of Natural Resources Canada.

44 Some Key Themes in the Study of Human Geography

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FIGURE 2.13 The grid system of parallels of latitude and meridians of
longitude. Since the meridians converge at the poles, parallels become
increasingly shorter away from the equator. On the globe, the 60th
parallel is only one-half as long as the equator, and a degree of longitude
along it measures only about 55 1/2 kilometres (about 34 1/2 miles)
compared to about 111 kilometres (about 69 miles) at the equator (0).
FIGURE 2.14 A portion of the 1:50,000 NTS map for Ottawa
(Map 031G05). Topographic maps provide excellent information about
and parallels of latitude run due eastwest. Longitude is the angu- ground relief (landforms and terrain), drainage (lakes and rivers), forest
lar distance east or west of the prime meridian and is depicted by cover, administrative areas, populated areas, transportation routes and
northsouth lines called meridians, which converge at the poles. facilities (including roads and railways), and other artificially-made
The properties of the globe grid the mapmaker tries to retain and features. Because so much information is provided about human use
of the land, topographic maps are classed as general purpose or
the map user should look for are as follows:
reference maps by the International Cartographic Association.
1. All meridians are of equal length; each is one-half the length 2006. Produced under licence from Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, with
of the equator. permission of Natural Resources Canada.

2. All meridians converge at the poles and are true northsouth

lines. and interrelationships those data present. Out of the myriad of
3. All lines of latitude (parallels) are parallel to the equator and items comprising the content of an area, the geographer must,
to each other. first, select those that are of concern to the problem at hand and,
4. Parallels decrease in length as one nears the poles. second, decide on how best to display them for study or demon-
5. Meridians and parallels intersect at right angles. stration. In that effort, geographers can choose between different
6. The scale on the surface of the globe is the same in every types of maps and different systems of symbolization.
direction. General-purpose, reference, or location maps make up one
major class of maps familiar to everyone. Their purpose is simply
Only the globe grid itself retains all of these characteristics. to show without analysis or interpretation a variety of natural or
To project it onto a surface that can be laid flat is to distort some human-made features of an area or of the world as a whole. Famil-
or all of these properties and consequently to distort the reality the iar examples are highway maps, city street maps, topographic
map attempts to portray. maps (Figure 2.14), atlas maps, and the like.
As noted above and in Chapter 1, latitude and longitude
form the basis of location. However, since this coordinate system
How Maps Show Location can be difficult to use, others such as the Military Grid, Civil-
ian Grid System, and Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate
The properties of the globe grid and of various projections are system have been developed. This subsection devotes attention to
the concern of the cartographer. Geographers are more interested the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinate system
in the depiction of spatial data and in the analysis of the patterns because it is often incorporated into GPS systems. The UTM

The World in Spatial TermsGeographic Research and Maps 45

fel7005x_ch02_029-057.indd 45 1/23/09 5:44:29 PM

FIGURE 2.15 The Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinate system
Peter H. Dana/08

system is based on a grid pattern that divides the earth into The northing values are measured continuously from zero at the
60 zones, each comprising 60 degrees of longitude (Figure 2.15). Equator, in a northerly direction. To avoid negative numbers for
Each zone is numbered 1 through 60, starting at the international locations south of the Equator, it has been assigned an arbitrary
date line (longitude 180 ), and proceeding east. West to east, false northing value of 10,000,000 metre. A central meridian
Canada spans zones 7 through 22 (Figure 2.16). Twenty UTM through the middle of each 6 zone is assigned an easting value
zones extend from 80S to 84N. Beginning at 80S and preced- of 500,000 metre. Grid values to the west of this central merid-
ing northward, the bands are lettered C through X (omitting ian are less than 500,000; to the east, more than 500,000. Thus,
letters I and O in order to avoid confusion with numbers anything west of the central meridian will have an easting less
one and zero). Each of these bands is 8 wide with the exception than 500,000 metre. For example, UTM eastings range from
of band X, which is 12 wide. Note that beyond zones C and X, the 167,000 metre to 833,000 metre at the equator (these ranges nar-
Universal Polar Stereographic (UPS) grid system is used, and not row towards the poles). In the southern hemisphere, northings
the UTM system. The UTM lettering system covering the latitude decrease as you go southward from the equator, which is given a
zones for Canada are: false northing of 10,000,000 metre so that no point within the
from 72N lat. to 84N X (northern 12 zone) zone has a negative northing value. In the northern hemisphere,
positions are measured northward from the equator, which has an
from 64N lat. to 72N W
initial northing value of 0 metre and a maximum northing
from 56N lat. to 64N V value of approximately 9,328,000 metre at the 84th parallelthe
from 48N lat. to 56N U maximum northern extent of the UTM zones. For instance, the
from 40N lat. to 48N T CN Tower, located in zone 17 has a grid coordinates 630084 m
The Grid Zone Designation is identified by reading the col- east, 4833438 m north. UTM is easier to use than latitude and
umn first and then the row. Winnipeg would be in zone 14U and longitude because it is in a grid (rather than curved) and is in
Toronto 17T (Figure 2.16). metric units.
Within each zone, a square grid is superimposed and is The UTM system has been integrated into Canadas National
aligned in order that vertical grid lines are parallel to the centre Topographic System, and is represented on the 1:50,000 map sheets
of the zone. Location is determined by the UTM grid coordi- in a light blue line (See Figure 2.14). Distances and places can be
nates, which are expressed as a distance in metres to the east of measured and UTM coordinates determined. For more information
the central meridian, referred to as the easting, and a distance go to: http://maps.nrcan.gc.ca/cartospecs/ChapBorder&Grid/Chap
in metres to the north of the equator, referred to as the northing. Border&GridEF50/BorGriIntro010704E50.htm.

46 Some Key Themes in the Study of Human Geography

fel7005x_ch02_029-057.indd 46 1/23/09 5:44:37 PM


Chukchi Bay Area covered by 1,250,000
gridded map sheet 67A Arct i c O ce a n
which falls in two zones Appro things
ximate 8,000,000 metres nor
G r e e n l a n d
Area covered by 1,250,000
gridded map sheet 87C
which falls in two zones

Beaufort Sea gs
Alaska thin
s nor
etr e
0 0m
a te
oxim Baffin Bay


4 0


Gulf of Alaska
C a n a d a roxi
App Labrador Sea


8 gs
etres E

Area covered by 1,250,000 ort


gridded map sheet 73M

0,000 m


which falls in one zone 00 48

Hudson Bay 0, 0
te 8
ian - 50



l Merid






Zo n




Ocean me



0, 0

, 00

Zone 13

Zone 17 a
Zone 14

Zone 16

Zone 15


A t la nt ic
Ocea n 60

180 114 108 102 96 90 84 78 72 66

The central meridian of every zone has been given All northings are distances in metres from the
an easting of 500,000 metres Eastings in a zone equator which has been given a zero northing
decrease to the west and increase to the east
MCR 65

FIGURE 2.16 The Universal Transverse Mercator System as it applies to Canada

Source: http://www.geod.nrcan.gc.ca/images/utm.jpg.

How Maps Show Other The maps they made of climate, vegetation, soil, population, and
other distributions introduced the thematic map, the second major
DataThematic Maps class of maps. Thematic map is the general term applied to a map
of any scale that presents a specific spatial distribution or a single
Until about the middle of the 18th century, the general-purpose category of datathat is, presents a graphic theme. The way the
or reference map was the dominant map form, for the primary information is shown on such a map may vary according to the
function of the mapmaker (and the explorer who supplied the type of information to be conveyed, the level of generalization
new data) was to fill in the worlds unknown areas with reliable that is desired, and the symbolization selected. Thematic maps
locational information. With the passage of time, scholars saw may be either qualitative or quantitative. The principal purpose
the possibilities to use the accumulating locational information to of the qualitative map is to show the distribution of a particular
display and study the spatial patterns of social and physical data. class of information. The world location of producing oil fields,

The World in Spatial TermsGeographic Research and Maps 47

fel7005x_ch02_029-057.indd 47 1/23/09 5:44:39 PM

the distribution of Canadas national parks, or the pattern of areas Maps, then, can distort and lie as readily as they can convey veri-
of agricultural specialization within a province or country are fiable spatial data or scientifically valid analyses. The more map
examples. The interest is in where things are, and nothing is users are aware of those possibilities and the more understanding
reported aboutin the examples citedbarrels of oil extracted or of map projections, symbolization, and common forms of the-
in reserve, number of park visitors, or value or volume of crops or matic and reference mapping standards they possess, the more
livestock produced. likely are they to reasonably question and clearly understand the
In contrast, quantitative thematic maps show the spatial char- messages maps communicate.
acteristic of numerical data. Usually, a single variable such as
population, median income, annual wheat production, or average
land value is chosen, and the map displays the variation from place
to place in that feature. Important types of quantitative thematic
Mental Maps
maps include graduated circle, dot, isometric and isopleth, and Mental maps can be thought of a persons internal map of their
choropleth maps (Figure 2.17). known world and illustrate what they perceive about routes, places
Graduated circle maps use circles of different size to show the and regions. Since these maps reflect what a person perceives
frequency of occurrence of a topic in different places; the larger from a range of information sources, such as what they have
the circle, the more frequent the incidence. On dot maps, a single actually experienced (primary or direct information), what they
or specified number of occurrences of the item studied is recorded have heard, read, and/or seen through conversations, the internet,
by a single dot. The dot map serves not only to record data but to news media, movies, and books, each person can be expected to
suggest their spatial pattern, distribution, and dispersion. have their own unique mental map (secondary or indirect infor-
An isometric map features lines (isolines) that connect points mation). This information is used to complete everyday tasks,
registering equal values of the item mapped (iso means equal). such as finding your way to class, and giving someone directions.
The isotherms shown on the daily weather map connect points For instance, a mental route map may also include reference
recording the same temperature at the same moment of time or points to be encountered on the chosen path of connection or
the same average temperature during the day. Identical elevations alternate routes of travel (see Figure 1.2). They also allow us to
above sea level may be shown by a form of isoline called a contour determine a persons preferences and how they define unique
line. On isopleth maps, the calculation refers not to a point but to places. We draw mental maps of places that are unfamiliar to
an areal statisticfor example, persons per square kilometre or us, which reflect our perceptions about a place. They can change
average percentage of cropland in cornand the isoline connects over time as we obtain more information. Whether drawn by an
average values for unit areas. For emphasis, the area enclosed by individual or a group, mental maps are every bit as real as their
isolines may be shaded to indicate approximately uniform occur- creators (and we all have them) as are the street maps and high-
rence of the thing mapped, and the isoline itself may be treated as way maps commercially available, and they are a great deal more
the boundary of a uniform region. immediate in their impact on our spatial decisions. The naming
A choropleth map presents average value of the data studied of a place (called toponymy), a topic covered in Chapter 6, helps
per pre-existing areal unitdwelling unit rents or assessed values to shape and enhance our mental maps.
by city block, for example, or (in Canada) population densities by In 1960, Kevin Lynch wrote The Image of the City in which
individual townships within counties. Each unit area on the map is he presented his research on students mental maps of four urban
then shaded or coloured to suggest the magnitude of the event or areas in the United States. He identified five elements that were
item found within its borders. Where the choropleth map is based and remain used to describe urban environments:
on the absolute number of items within the unit area, as it is in
Figure 2.17, rather than on areal averaging (total numbers, that is, Paths routes between places, such as walk or bike paths,
instead of, for example, numbers per square kilometre), a mislead- streets (e.g. route from home to school).
ing statement about density may be conveyed. Landmarks prominent points of interest or particular loca-
A statistical map records the actual numbers or occurrences tions (e.g. home, school).
of the mapped item per established unit area or location. The Nodesmeeting places or centres of activity where pathways
actual count of each provinces colleges and universities shown cross (e.g. financial district, shopping district).
on an outline map of Canada or the number of traffic accidents Districts regions which are perceived to be homogeneous
at each street intersection within a city are examples of statistical (e.g. downtown, university, industrial area).
maps. A cartogram uses such statistical data to transform ter- Edgesform the boundaries between districts.
ritorial space so that the largest areal unit on the map is the one
showing the greatest statistical value (Figure 2.18). Noting the inclusion and exclusion of these elements, and
Maps communicate information but, as in all forms of com- their prominence on a mental map are useful to interpreting how
munication, the message conveyed by a map reflects the intent people perceive their environment. Since Lynchs time, additional
and, perhaps, the biases of its author. Maps are persuasive because techniques have been developed to collect and analyze data from
of the implied precision of their lines, scales, colour and symbol mental maps. These include measuring uni-dimensional aspects
placement, and information content. But maps, as communica- (e.g. distance and direction) and two-dimensional aspects as well
tion devices, can subtly or blatantly manipulate the message they (e.g. how people draw maps if they are provided with instructions
impart, or contain intentionally false information (Figure 2.19). or given a small pre-drawn portion of a map). The latter focuses

48 Some Key Themes in the Study of Human Geography

fel7005x_ch02_029-057.indd 48 1/23/09 5:44:41 PM

Population by county Population by county

4,000,000 100,000
1,000,000 10,000,000

(a) Graduated circle map (b) Dot-distribution map

Population Population by county;

per square mile data in thousands
024 099
2564 100999
65129 10001999
130250 200016000
More than 250

(c) Isopleth map (d) Choropleth map

FIGURE 2.17 Types of thematic maps. Although population is the theme of each, these different California maps present their information in strikingly
different ways. (a) In the graduated circle map, the area of the circle is approximately proportional to the absolute number of people within each county.
(b) In a dot-distribution map where large numbers of items are involved, the value of each dot is identical and stated in the map legend. The placement
of dots on this map does not indicate precise locations of people within the county, but simply their total number. (c) Population density is recorded by
the isopleth map, while the choropleth map (d) may show absolute values as here or, more usually, ratio values such as population per square kilometre.
Source: From Fred M. Shelley and Audrey E. Clarke, Human and Cultural Geography, 1994. Reproduced by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

The World in Spatial TermsGeographic Research and Maps 49

fel7005x_ch02_029-057.indd 49 1/23/09 5:44:42 PM

FIGURE 2.18 McDonalds Cartogram. This is a cartogram in which each country is sized according to the number of MacDonalds restaurants contained
within it. Note how large the United States is to every other country. The continent of Africa is very hard to distinguish. Due to very small number of
McDonalds restaurants, some countries have been merged illustrating how maps can simplify reality (lie!).
Source: Copyright 2006 SASI Group (University of Sheffield) and Mark Newman (University of Michigan).

attention on how mental images and maps are developed while the of Space). First, what you know and how you draw it reflects
former indicates the product of that process (Kitchin, 2000). where you have lived (Figure 2.20) and travelled, especially if it
There are many findings associated with mental map is a popular vacation destination. Second, our everyday conversa-
research, which, in part, reinforce comments made in Chapter 1 tions and media coverage about a place influence our perceptions.
(see Physical and Cultural Attributes, The Changing Attributes For instance, we may choose routes or avoid neighbourhoods not
on objective grounds but on how the area is reported in the media
(e.g. high crime). In those choices, gender can play an impor-
Bol'shoy Sovetskiy Atlas Atlas Mira, 1954
Mira, 1939 tant role. The mental maps of women may well contain danger
zones where fear of, for example, sexual assault, harassment, or
encounter with persons or conditions felt to be threatening are
determinants in routes chosen or times of journey. Third, indi-

viduals who are of lower socio-economic groups draw maps that

cover smaller geographic areas relative to those of higher socio-


economic groups (Figure 2.21). Generally, our areas of awareness

Karta SSSR, 1958 Atlas SSSR, 1962 generally increase with the increasing mobility that comes with

Logashkino Logashkino FIGURE 2.19 The wandering town of Logashkino, as traced in various
Soviet atlases by Mark Monmonier. Deliberate, extensive cartographic
disinformation and locational falsification, he reports, became a Cold
War tactic of the Soviet Union. We usually useand trustmaps to tell
us exactly where things are located. On the maps shown, however,
Atlas Mira, 1967 Atlas SSSR, 1969
Logashkino migrates from west of the river away from the coast to
east of the river on the coast, while the river itself gains and loses a
distributary and, in 1954, the town itself disappears. The changing
misinformation, Monmonier suggests, was intended to obscure from
potential enemies the precise location of possible military targets.
Source: Mark Monmonier, How to Lie with Maps, 2nd ed. 1996. Reproduced by
permission of the University of Chicago Press.

50 Some Key Themes in the Study of Human Geography

fel7005x_ch02_029-057.indd 50 1/23/09 5:44:42 PM

FIGURE 2.20 Mental map of Canada drawn by a Maritimer. Mental maps reflect a persons view of the world. Note the importance and pride reflected
in local and regional place values.
Source: R.M. Downs and D. Stea (1977). Maps in Minds: Reflections on Cognitive Mapping. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers. ISBN: 0-06-041733-1. Figure 1.3, p. 9.

age, affluence, familiarity, and education, and may be enlarged or interest in, and respect for, traditional knowledge in guiding
restricted for different social groups within the city or country. resource development decisions, such as timber harvesting, oil
Mental maps are becoming more accessible through the and gas development, and park planning, as well as land claims
web. On Platial.com, over 5,000 custom maps have been drawn, agreements between aboriginals and federal/state/provincial
including maps called autobiogeographies, indicating where they governments (Folke et al., 2007). Broadly defined, traditional
have been. Drawing mental maps forms an important element knowledge is the cumulative and collective body of knowledge,
in neogeographypeople using and creating their own maps, experience, and values held by societies with a history of subsis-
on their own terms, and by combining elements of an existing tence (Ellis, 2005: 66). Mental maps have been developed by
toolset. A neogeographer geotags pictures and images (i.e. adds combining the individual discourses and/or mental maps obtained
information about where an image is located often by using a from local people can indicate a communitys local knowledge
global positioning system (to be discussed shortly) and locates it or how it defines its region. In a resource management context,
on a web-based map, such as Google Maps (maps.google.com), information generated from this type of exercise can enhance
Microsoft Maps (local.live.com), or Yahoo Maps (maps.yahoo sustainability (Figure 2.22). Although it has been employed suc-
.com/beta). People often geotag their photos to make a map of their cessfully, the utility and accuracy of this type of exercise remains
summer vacation. The popular term for drawing mental maps is controversial. Some questions the merits of incorporating qualita-
social mappingmaps that tell people something about a place. tive data (i.e., the stories, sketches) onto very accurate locational
Sometimes government agencies or consultants will use a (i.e., quantitative) maps. On the other hand, as illustrated by some
group facilitator to have members of a community work together pharmaceutical companies, indigenous knowledge has sometimes
to learn more about them, their community, and their resources. been exploited by private interests when the location of their
Over the past 20 years, there has been an increasing worldwide valued resources has been revealed.

The World in Spatial TermsGeographic Research and Maps 51

fel7005x_ch02_029-057.indd 51 1/23/09 5:44:44 PM

FIGURE 2.21 Four mental maps of Los Angeles. The upper and middle-income residents of Northridge and Westwood have expansive views of the
metropolis reflecting their mobility and area of travel. Residents of Boyle Heights and Avalon, both minority districts, have a much more restricted and
incomplete mental image of the city. Their limited mental maps reflect and reinforce their spatial isolation within the metropolitan area.
Source: From Department of City Planning, City of Los Angeles, The Visual Environment of Los Angeles, 1971. Reprinted by permission.

52 Some Key Themes in the Study of Human Geography

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military surveillance and energy budget observations) and radar
mapping (also operative night and day and useful for penetrating
clouds and haze).
For more than 30 years, both manned and unmanned space-
craft have supplemented the airplane as the vehicle for imaging
earth features. Among the advantages of satellites are the speed of
coverage and the fact that views of large regions can be obtained.
In addition, they are equipped to record and report back to Earth
digitized information from multiple parts of the electromagnetic
spectrum including some that are outside the range of human
eyesight. Satellites enable us to map the invisible, including atmo-
spheric and weather conditions, in addition to providing images
with applications in agriculture and forest inventory, land use
classification, identification of geologic structures and mineral
deposits, and more. The different sensors of the Landsat satellites
are capable of resolving objects between 15 and 60 metres (50 and
200 ft) in size. Even sharper images are yielded by the French SPOT
satellite (launched in 1986); its sensors can show objects that are
larger than 10 metres (33 ft). Satellite imagery is relayed by elec-
tronic signals to receiving stations, where computers convert them
into photo-like images for use in long-term scientific research
and in current-condition mapping programs. In December 2007,
Canada RADARSAT-2 was launched. This commercial radar sat-
ellite will be used for marine surveillance, ice monitoring, disaster
management, environmental monitoring, resource management,
and mapping in Canada and around the world. Its ability to moni-
tor human rights abuses is also being explored (Figure 2.23).
FIGURE 2.22 Mental map of the substrate of Lough Neagh as perceived The Canada Centre for Remote Sensing provides these and other
by local fishermen. A study completed by McKenna et al. (2008)
geographic databases to public and private decision makers, and
developed a mental map of the substrate of Lough Neagh, Northern
Ireland from interviews with local fishers. In this instance, fishers were
others too (www.ccrs.nrcan.gc.ca).
provided with the outline of Lough Neagh and asked to indicate the
substrate on it. The fishers local knowledge compared very favourably to
the information generated from scientific studies. Geographic Information
Source: Copyright 2008 by John McKenna, Rory, J. Quinn and Daniel J. Donnelly,
adapted from maps by Admiralty Chart No. 2163 (1983) and Side-scan Sonar Survey
of Lough Neagh. Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. McKenna, J.,
Systems (GIS)
R. J. Quinn, D. J. Donnelly and J. A. G. Cooper. 2008. Accurate mental maps as an aspect Geographic information systems (GIS) extend the use of digi-
of local ecological knowledge (LEK): a case study from Lough Neagh, Northern Ireland.
Ecology and Society 13(1): 13. [online] URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol13/ tized data and computer manipulation to investigate and display
iss1/art13/. spatial information. A GIS can be envisioned as a set of discrete
informational overlays linked by reference to a basic locational grid
of latitude and longitude (Figure 2.24). The system then permits the
Remote Sensing separate display of the spatial information contained in the data-
base. It allows the user to overlay maps of different themes, analyze
Remote sensing detects the nature of an object and the content of the relations revealed, and compute spatial relationships. It shows
an area from a distance. In the early 20th century, fixed-wing air- aspects of spatial associations otherwise difficult to display on con-
craft provided a platform for the camera and photographer, and by ventional maps, such as flows, interactions, and three-dimensional
the 1930s aerial photography from planned positions and routes characteristics. In short, a GIS database, as a structured set of
permitted reliable data gathering for large and small area mapping spatial information, has become a powerful tool for automating
purposes. Even today, high and low altitude aerial photography geographical analysis and synthesis. A GIS data set may contain the
with returned film remains a widely used remote sensing tech- great amount of place-specific information collected and published
nique. Standard photographic film detects reflected energy within by Statistics Canada, including population distribution, race, eth-
the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. It can be nicity, income, housing, employment, industry, farming, and so on.
supplemented by special sensitized infrared film that has proved It may also hold environmental information downloaded from satel-
particularly useful for the recording of vegetation and hydro- lite imagery or taken from NTS (national topographic system) maps
graphic features, and by non-photographic imaging techniques (Figure 2.14) and other governmental and private sources.
including thermal scanning (widely used for studying various GIS makes it possible for a map user not only to see where
aspects of water features such as ocean currents and water pollu- something is located but to combine other pieces of information in
tion and, because it can be employed during nighttime hours, for order to increase the level of analysis and information generated.

The World in Spatial TermsGeographic Research and Maps 53

fel7005x_ch02_029-057.indd 53 1/31/09 4:25:43 PM

Terrain Models

Street centre lines
Drainage network

Sanitary sewer lines
Water lines

Lot lines
Property lines

Comprehensive plan
Municipal zoning
Voting precincts
School districts
Census tracts/blocks

Base Mapping
Road pavement
Fences/parking lots
Wooded areas
Spot elevation
Contour lines
Recreational facilities

FIGURE 2.24 A model of a geographic information system. A GIS

incorporates three primary components: data storage capability,
computer graphics programs, and statistical packages. In this
example, the different layers of information are to be used in different
combinations for city planning purposes. Different data sets, all selected
for applicability to the questions asked, may be developed and used
FIGURE 2.23 Porta Farm, Zimbabwe in 2002 and 2006. In May 2005, in human geography, economic geography, transportation planning,
the Government of Zimbabwe began Operation Murambatsvina, which industrial location work, and similar applications.
in English translates to Operation Restore Order or Drive Out Trash. Reprinted by permission of Shaoli Huang.
According to the Government, the intent was to crackdown against
illegal housing (e.g. squatter settlements) and black market activities, The key to the GIS is geocodingthe process of assigning absolute
and reduce the risk of the spread of infectious disease in these areas. location coordinates, such as latitude and longitude, to human and
However, since this initiative coincided with the results of the March physical features of the earth. For instance, a marketing geogra-
election which saw many of the urban poor voting for the Opposition pher might combine information on where people buy certain items
Party, it has argued that the governments main reason for commencing (think about the last time you were asked for your postal code after
Operation Murambatsvina was to punish the urban poor for voting for buying something at a store) with census information about income
the opposition party. The U.N. estimates the homes of around 700,000 and demographics in order to target new products or store locations.
people were destroyed. Over 2.4 million people across Zimbabwe An urban geographer might use similar information to determine
have been affected by the program. Some of this devastation is shown
where affordable housing and social service offices might be best
above. In 2002, Porta Farm was home to between 6,000 and 10,000
located. GIS allows geographers to determine the relationship
people who lived in more than 850 homes and other buildings. By
2006, the area had been levelled. Satellite images like these are now
between factors, and is becoming increasingly accessible to the pub-
being used more frequently to document destruction in many dangerous lic. Google Maps and Google Earth are the simplest and most easily
parts of the world. Amnesty International initiated a project that monitors available form of a GIS increasingly used by the general public.
12 vulnerable villages in Darfur region of Sudan that uses images A Canadian geographer, Roger Tomlinson (Figure 2.25), has
produced from commercial satellites that have rented satellites. Find out been identified as the father of Geographic Information Systems
more at www.eyesondarfur.org. (GIS). According to him, the strength of the term GIS comes from its

54 Some Key Themes in the Study of Human Geography

fel7005x_ch02_029-057.indd 54 1/23/09 5:44:52 PM

use GIS to provide viewers with up-to-date weather forecasts
and maps. Geocaching is an outdoor treasure-hunting activ-
ity in which the participants use a GPS receiver to hide and find
containers (called geocaches or caches) in local or far-away
places. A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing
a logbook and treasure, usually small toys or trinkets. The first
time geocaching is reported to have occurred was on May 3, 2000.
On that date, to celebrate improved access by the public to more
accurate location information, a bucket of trinkets in the woods
outside Portland, Oregon and its location was announced on the
web (USENET newsgroup sci.geo.satellite-nav). The rule is to
take something, leave something, and sign the logbook. According
to geocaching.com, there are 513,240 active caches worldwide
covering all seven continents.

Systems, Maps, and Models

The content of area is interrelated and constitutes a spatial system
that, in common with all systems, functions as a unit because its
component parts are interdependent. Only rarely do individual
elements of area operate in isolation, and to treat them as if they
do is to lose touch with spatial reality. The systems of geographic
concern are those in which the functionally important variables
FIGURE 2.25 Roger Tomlinson, the inventor of GIS. He was awarded are spatial: location, distance, direction, density, and the other
an Order of Canada for his work, which he pioneered the use of
basic concepts we have reviewed. The systems that they define are
worldwide to collect, manage, and manipulate geographical data,
not the same as regions, though spatial systems may be the basis
changing the face of geography as a discipline. His work with GIS focused
on the development of major international GIS programs, ranging for regional identification.
widely in geographic scope and content, but with a special emphasis on Systems have components, and the analysis of the role of
environmental protection, natural resources management, national parks, components helps reveal the operation of the system as a whole.
and forests. To conduct that analysis, individual system elements must be
isolated for separate identification and, perhaps, manipulated to
see their function within the structure of the system or subsystem.
Maps and models are the devices geographers use to achieve that
fundamentals: the word geography is not going to go away. It has isolation and separate study.
been in use for hundreds (some would say thousands) of years . . . It Maps, as we have seen, are effective to the degree that they
is clear to me that the overall process is that of earth description; in can segregate at an appropriate level of generalization those system
short, it is geography. It has been demonstrated beyond any refuta- elements selected for examination. By compressing, simplifying,
tion that geography matters in human decision making. and abstracting reality, maps record in manageable dimension the
GIS is now being combined with satellite-enabled global real-world conditions of interest. A model is a simplified abstrac-
positioning systems (GPS) in cars, cell phones, iPhones, and Black- tion of reality, structured to clarify causal relationships. Maps
Berries. This software allows people to find out not only where they are a kind of model. They represent reality in an idealized form
are located, but also provides them with directions about how to get so that certain aspects of its properties may be seen more clearly.
to where they want to be. GPS is a satellite-based navigation system, They are a special form of model, of course. Their abstractions
called NAVSTAR, originally developed for military purposes start- are rendered visually and at a reduced scale so they may be dis-
ing in 1978, and is maintained and controlled by the United States played, for example, on the pages of this book.
Department of Defence. Made fully operational in 1995, it utilizes The complexities of spatial systems analysisand the oppor-
a set of at least 24 satellites which transmit precise microwave tunities for quantitative analysis of systems made possible by
signals to the GPS receiver and allows it to determine its location computers and sophisticated statistical techniqueshave led
(within a few metres), speed, direction, and time. The NAVSTAR geographers to use other kinds of models in their work. Model
system is often referred to as the GPS, (at least in Canada and the building is the technique social scientists use to simplify complex
United States) because it was generally available first. The Russians situations, to eliminate (as does the map) unimportant details, and
have developed their own system (GLONASS). The Europeans are to isolate for special study and analysis the role of one or more
working on a systemthe Galileo positioning system. India and interacting elements in a total system. With this introduction to
China are considering the development of their own systems. geography from the perspective of the World in Spatial Terms,
GIS and GPS are inspiring people to explore their world we are able to continue our exploration of geography from three
and re-invigorating people to read and make maps. TV stations other important themes in the next chapter.

The World in Spatial TermsGeographic Research and Maps 55

fel7005x_ch02_029-057.indd 55 1/23/09 5:44:59 PM

Want to Learn More?
Inductive and Deductive Reasoning: Atlas of Canada, Natural Resources Canada: Remote Sensing, Canada Centre for Remote
http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/ http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/ Sensing: www.ccrs.nrcan.gc.ca
kb/dedind.php index.html
2006 Census of Canada: GIS
www2.statcan.ca/ccr_r000_e.htm UTM Environment Canada: http://www.eman-
Natural Resources Canada: http://maps. rese.ca/eman/ecotools/gisarea/intro.html
Maps nrcan.gc.ca/cartospecs/ChapBorder&Grid/
The Guide to GIS: http://www.gis.com/
Map Projections: http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/ ChapBorder&GridEF50/
site/english/learningresources/carto_corner/ BorGriIntro010704E50.htm Global Positioning Systems, Canadian Space
map_projections.html Agency: http://www.space.gc.ca/asc/eng/
Geocaching: www.geocaching.org
U.N. Maps: www.un.org/Depts/
Parks Canada: http://www.pc.gc.ca/docs/pc/

The research process is generally characterized by four main steps the characteristics of the global grid are distorted, but conve-
and five common purposes. In order to be rigorous, researchers nience and data manageability are gained. Spatial information
use a mix of data sources (primary and/or secondary; quanti- may be depicted in a number of ways, each designed to simplify
tative and/or qualitative) and/or forms of analysis. The census and clarify the infinite complexity of the real-world. GIS allows
of Canada is a very reliable secondary source of data and is for the creation, storage, analysis, and visualization of data in
valuable because data can be tracked over space and time through both two and three dimensions, and is emerging as a technique all
a range of geographic scales. Maps are an important source of geographers should have some familiarity with. GIS is becoming
geographic data and a way to present results. All maps are an increasingly more accessible to the general public. Geographers
imperfect rendering of the three-dimensional earth and its parts, use verbal and mathematical models for the same purpose, to
on a two-dimensional surface. In that rendering, some or all of abstract and to analyze.

azimuthal projection 41 geocaching 55 inductive research 32 qualitative data 36
conformal projection 40 geocoding 54 map 37 quantitative data 36
conic projection 43 geographic information systems mental map 48 remote sensing 53
cylindrical projection 43 (GIS) 53 mathematical projection 38 scale 44
deductive research 32 geometrical (perspective) model 55 secondary data 33
developable surface 39 projection 39 neogeography 51 spatial system 55
equal-area (equivalent) gnomonic projection 39 orthographic projection 39 stereographic projection 39
projection 40 global positioning system primary data 33 social mapping 51
equidistant projection 40 (GPS) 55 projection 37 Universal Transverse
graticule 38 Mercator (UTM) 45

56 Some Key Themes in the Study of Human Geography

fel7005x_ch02_029-057.indd 56 1/23/09 5:45:04 PM

1. What are the major subjects of the the best map? What criteria should insurance; Starbucks, Tim Hortons,
Census of Canada? be applied in determining which is Pizza, Pizza, Dominos). How would
2. List at least four properties of the globe best? you describe the pattern of this business
grid. Why are globe grid properties apt 6. Using Google Maps. Go to http://www. relative to accessibility to customers?
to be distorted on maps? youtube.com/watch?vCd5eu-4kCoA Press the Satellite icon and zoom in
to find a short clip on how to use the on your residence or home. What time
3. What does prime meridian mean? What of day was this image taken? How can
happens to the length of a degree of Google Map interface. To see some
of the power of Google maps, go to you tell? Google Maps provides high-
longitude as it approaches the poles? resolution satellite images for most
http://maps.google.com/. Zoom in on
4. What different ways of displaying your university/college town. When urban areas in Canada. Compare the
statistical data on maps can you name can begin to see a reasonable level of level of detail provided within your
and describe? detail in the street pattern, go to the box university town to a nearby rural area.
5. Look at the maps of Canada in Find Businesses. Type in a general
Figure 2.11. Which do you think is or specific business (e.g., coffee, pizza,

1. What are the sources of information, census consolidated subdivision, census understood on the earths surface itself.
primary and secondary, which division, and economic region. Some Thematic (single category) maps may
geographers use? pp. 3137. problems with using census data be with qualitative or quantitative. Their
Geographers use a wide range of include the delay in obtaining data data may be shown in graduated circle,
sources to obtain information. Common once it is collected, although this dot distribution, isometric, chloropleth,
primary data sources include surveys, should become shorter as more statistical, or cartogram form.
interviews, field observations, and data are collected online. Averaging 4. In what ways in addition to maps
participant observation. Popular of data, particularly when populations may spatial data be visualized or
secondary data sources include the are small, detracts from the precision analyzed? p. 5155.
census, and reliable surveys completed of data while protecting the Informally, we all create mental
by government agencies, non- confidentiality of respondents. maps reflecting highly personalized
government organizations, and the 3. Why do geographers use maps, impressions and information about
private sector. and how do maps show spatial the spatial arrangement of things (for
2. How is the Census of Canada spatially information? pp. 3751. example buildings, streets, landscape
organized and what are some Maps are tools geographers use to features). More formally, geographers
problems in using this data source? identify and delimit regions and to recognize the content of area as forming
pp. 3435. analyze their content. They permit the a spatial system to which techniques
The census geography ranges study of areas and areal features too of spatial systems analysis and model
from city block, dissemination area, extensive to be completely viewed or building are applicable.


The World Wide Web has a tremendous Internet exercises, self-quizzes, videos, Geography Online Learning Centre at
number and variety of sites pertaining and additional study tools relevant to www.mcgrawhill.ca/olc/fellmann.
to geography. To access Web sites, this chapters content, visit the Human

The World in Spatial TermsGeographic Research and Maps 57

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