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Four Geographic Traditions - Research Paper Example

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Name Date Course Section/# Pattison’s Four Traditions of Geography William D. Pattison denoted four different ways of understanding the study of geography in a 1963 address to the National Council for Geographic Education. As with many fields of study, the study of geography has grown, developed, morphed, and redefined itself over the decades to espouse multiple approaches that can, according to Pattison, be summarized in the following four traditions: spatial tradition, area studies tradition, man-land tradition, and earth science tradition…
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Download file to see previous pages As such, the core definitions of each of these traditions will be discussed as well as a level of analysis performed on which tradition speaks best to which particular aspect of geographical analysis. What is noteworthy before delving into a firm and functional definition of each of these four traditions is to understand that the subject of geography has always, since its inception, been focused on the art and science of definition. Without definition, geography would have but a few actionable uses. In this way, it is important for the reader to understand that each of the following four approaches that will be discussed should be viewed within just such a prism. Although one is not superior to all of the others at all time, each in their own way can provide a useful tool of analysis which can help the reader/researcher to draw a level of inference on specific research questions and can help to shine a valuable level of insight into key determinants that would otherwise not be able to be fully answered with the application and/or use of another of the traditions. Similarly, although each of the four following traditions are still in use within the community of geographic research and scientific studies, some are used to a greater and more affective use than others. Additionally, as the field grows, evolves, and advances, some of the four will no doubt decrease in overall performance; however, this unavoidable decrease of some of these traditions is no reason not to consider the fundamental determinants that have sought to define the way in which the field has progressed and continues to define itself up until the current juncture in time. Naturally, from the aforementioned list, the first of these traditions that will be discussed and analyzed is that of the spatial tradition. The spatial tradition is perhaps the best known and the most common of historical geographic traditions in that it seeks to define a given region based solely upon a firm differentiation of what is “other” and what is not. Although this tradition is perhaps the oldest in historical terms of implementation and usage, the fact of the matter is that is has continued to grow and develop throughout history (Pattison 3). As a function of this, the tradition has grown to incorporate computerized mapping (i.e. GIS and the like), quantitative techniques and tools for the representation of otherwise abstract geographic terms, aerial photography, and a litany of other spatial analysis tools that have helped to define, group, and differentiate otherwise indistinguishable determinants from one another within the realm of geography and geographic research and interpretation. This “oldest” of traditions continues to evolve and incorporate the different aspects of technological advancement that have manifested themselves throughout society and the sciences. As a function of this growth, the spatial tradi ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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