Geographia Polonica (1985) vol. 51

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Recent developments in social geography

John Eyles

Geographia Polonica (1985) vol. 51, pp. 57-64


It may seem strange advocating the assessment of developments in social geography, when there is a general movement within the social sciences towards a more integrated, interdisciplinary approach. Indeed, in a recent historical view of the sub-discipline, the author suggested that such movement might possibly result in the demise of social geography (Eyles and Smith, 1978). It is, however, important to interpret such a comment correctly. The move towards greater social science integration is likely to lead to the demise of social geography as a separate entity. This does not mean that it will cease to exist. It will contribute to. become part of, and be constituted by the broader social science endeavours. Paradoxically, this may require a greater awareness of the role of social geography. Thus, even in multidisciplinary studies, social geography remains important for two reasons. In the field of human geography, it constantly and consistently focuses attention on people and their problems. It is possible to argue that human geography itself is artifactoriented, analysing the city, the factory or the clinic rather than the people whose actions and activities constitute such artifacts. In social science, social geography keeps the geographical dimension to the fore. All social actions have a geographical dimension which is more than a mere reflex of the social. Historically, most social theory has been almost totally aspatial. It is only recently that such theory has recognised the importance of the spatial (see Giddens. 1981). That dimension must not disappear from view again.


John Eyles, Department of Geography. Queen Mary College. University of London. London. UK