Publisher: Sage Date of Publication: 2005
Price: £ 15.99 ISBN: 0 7619 4136 3
Pages: xii + 200 Format: Paperback

Overall Score:

Target Readership Sen Secondary For help with criteria, click here


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1 - Maps; 2 - Birth; 3 - Education; 4 - Identity; 5 - Politics; 6 - Inequality; 7 - Health; 8 -Work; 9 - Home; 10 - Abroad; 11 - Future.



There is obviously a need for the study of human occupation and action on the landscape but this can mean a more sedate and traditional look through the realms of human geography. What is needed is something to make the student think and enliven the work since its implications are important.

This book attempts to do both of these. This much is obvious in the opening lines of the preface. The aim ,we are told, is to introduce students (noted here as university but senior secondary could work easily as well) to the social landscape. To accompany this there are masses of maps but not in the usual topographic sense but new cartograms weighted towards human response in approximately the "right" spatial location. Thus the reader gets to think about how the land is represented before even the first chapter. This opener looks at maps and the way in which the social maps for this text were created. The idea is to map difference not in height but in social response. It also introduced the reader to the idea of social and spatial differences. Having read so much about maps it is surprising to see pages of graphs starting chapter two's look at birth. however, it's important to see the dimensions of birth before looking at its distribution and subsequent movement. Chapter three moves on to look at the distribution of schooling and the results obtained.Ater school one would hope to move into some form of employment but, once there, there are labels that are applied. This labelling might not be as obvious as on Booth's 1889 map (or this author's comment on it) but it is pervasive none the less. Chapter five shows how politics can shape the land and how some votes are worth more than others. This is followed by an examination of poverty and inequality. As is shown, this has been a problem through the ages but it's still a difficult one to tackle. Next, although the topic is health, it's actually about death and the distribution of both death rates and causes. Chapter 8 looks at employment and the way in which individual sectors are distributed. The last two analytical chapters look at the factors at home and abroad respectively. The former deals with housing and adequacy in very much the standard census way whilst the latter looks at global issues such as health using the same mapping concepts as earlier. A final chapter sums up the way in which the UK has changed and might do so in the future.

From the notes above it might be thought that there's little to distract from the conventional view of human geography. however, in each chapter there's a great deal more going on. This is part personal and part social history. It far more sociological than cartographic although both elements are strong. It has a very personal theme running through it which would attract the less motivated. In addition, each chapter has a series of games using anything from a handful to hundreds of participants (with some explicit warnings about suitability!). The aim is to "live out" the text and statistics and to show how the social geography of the UK is constituted as it is. This is book is more of a motivator than traditional source of information and is all the more refreshing for it. This text would make an excellent addition to the library.


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