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History and Concepts

Fourth Edition

280 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

This now standard student reference has been totally revised and updated. It remains the definitive introduction to the history, philosophy, and methodology of human geography.

The book is organized into five sections:

  • An historical overview of the discipline and an explanation of its organization; with more on the growth of spatial sciences, Geographical Information Systems, and ways of representing the world
  • An examination of geography from Antiquity to the early modern period
  • An analysis of paradigm shifts in geography, the philosophy of science, and the quantitative revolution;
  • A critical discussion of positivism, empiricism, structuration theory, realism; as well as an introduction to core themes and concepts in current geographical thought including space, place, and post-modernism
  • A review of global processes and local responses, from economic globalization to global environmental change

Extensively revised to take account of new developments in geographical thought and methods, the text explores complex ideas in an intelligible and accessible style. Illustrated throughout with summaries, notes for further reading and a concept glossary, this is the essential student companion to the discipline: it will be an invaluable resource for undergraduate students.

What is Geography?

Exploration and the cosmographic tradition

A science of synthesis

A modeloriented approach

Local responses to global processes; deviations from the models in focus

An organizational plan of geography

A new synthesis?

Homo geographicus

Specialization and pluralism

The Foundation of Geography
Geography in the ancient world

Middle Ages and the Renaissance


The philosopher, Immanuel Kant

The `classical' period

From cosmography to an institutionalized discipline


The social anarchists

Geomorphology and physiography provide academic respect

Environmental determinism and possibilism

The French school of regional geography

Landscapes and regions

Regional studies in Britain

Geography 1950S-1980S; 30 Years of Progress
Changing job market

The development of applied geography

A discipline ripe for change

The growth of 'spatial science'

Critics of the spatial science school

The achievements of spatial science

Paradigms and Revolutions
Kuhn's paradigms

Critics of Kuhn

Induction, deduction and abduction

Changing paradigms in geography?

An idiographic or nomothetic science?

Absolute and relative space

What kind of revolution?

A 'critical' revolution?

Rerolution or evolution?

Positivism and its Critics
Positivism and critical theory

The development of positivism

Principles in positivism

Criticisms of positivism

Dialectics, Hegel and Marx; breaking down binaries

Science as a force transforming society

Practical consequences for research

Geography and empiricism

The positivism of spatial science

Humanistic approaches

Behavioural and welfare geography


New Trends and Ideas Developed in the Last Decades
Structuration theory


Agency, structures and actor-network theory



Gender and feminist geography

New tools in geographical research; satellite photos and GIS

To unite a vernacular and an academic definition of geography


References and Bibliography
Author and Personality Index
Glossary and Subject Index

It is recommended, because it provides an overview of the different concepts that form the basis of knowledge in geography.

Mr Ahmad Izzo
Institute of Geography, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz
June 25, 2015

I like very much the questions that are at the end of every chapter. I use them in order to evaluate my students.

Professor Gustavo Rodríguez
Geography , Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero
July 17, 2014

This book is particularly useful for 1st year students who are transitioning from school/FE to HE. Whilst a textbook it has many points for discussion and so is also suitable for other teaching formats such as seminars.

Dr Karen Parkhill
Environment & Natural Resources, Bangor University
October 10, 2013

I feel that this book should be given to undergraduates in staggered doses throughout their degree programme. It is not a book that a student maybe able to comprehend and appreciate at one go. It offers valuable material for discussion in class, in which concepts in Geography may be introduced and elaborated.

Mr Ritienne Gauci
Department of Geography, University of Malta
April 9, 2013

Wonderful introduction of a somehow old fashioned way. Gains it strength from the fact that the author is not following recent trends. Very well written and thoughtful!

Dr Stefan Zimmermann
Geography, University of Osnabruck
October 12, 2012

Well written and covers the material I think is important for upper level undergraduate and masters students.

Dr JOdy Decker
Geography , Wilfrid Laurier University
July 20, 2010

immensely useful as an overview for any course in the history and development of geographical thought

Mr Richard Kotter
Dept of Geography, Northumbria University
February 18, 2010

Very good and comprehensive treatment of fundamental concepts that guide geographic research design.

Dr Paul Elsner
Dept of Geography, Birkbeck College
November 13, 2009

Offers an accessible reference complement to other texts used in the course, Geographic Thought. While Peet's Modern Geographic Thought remains a course reference text as does Hubbard's Key Thinkers on Space & Place, H-Jensen's text will be in many ways more approachable for students and will serve as an effective teaching text

Dr Jeremy Tasch
Geography Envir Planning Dept, Towson University
November 3, 2009

New to the Fourth Edition:

All chapters revised and updated

A detailed explanation of key ideas in human geography's post-modernist and post-structuralist 'turns'

Student questions added to the end of each chapter

Reorganisation of the text (in response to teacher comments) to make the historical development more clear throughout the book

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter One

Arild Holt-Jensen

Arild Holt-Jensen (born 1937) is professor emeritus at Department of Geography, University of Bergen, Norway. He has been teaching geography in Bergen since 1965 and is the author of a number of books and articles on history and concepts of geography, environmental, urban and regional planning as well as general textbooks for highschool geography. Rewarded in 2000 ‘Modeens Minnemedalj’ by the Finnish Geographical Society for achievements in geographical education. He has served as Department chair, member of University Senate, member of editorial board for GeoJournal, member of the Council in the Association of European Schools of Planning... More About Author