Humanistic geography developed as a criticism against positivism and quantitative revolution in geography. Human geography is people’s geography with the human being at its very centre. It is about people and for the people. It is the study of earth as the home of man. The humanistic approach in geography became popular by Febvre, Vidal de la Blache. Sauer, Woolridge and Hartshorne.
William Kirk was the first geographer who advocated the Humanistic school of thought in Geography in 1951. However, it was Chinese American geographer, Mr. Y.F. Tuan who provided a real shape of Humanism approach to geography, he was uses the term ‘humanistic geography’ in 1976, that is why Y.F. Tuan is considered the father of the humanistic school of thought in Geography.
For Tuan, humanistic geography was a perspective that disclosed the complexity and ambiguity of relations between man and environment. The approaches of Kropotkin, Reclus and Herbertson were also humanistic.
According to Tuan, humanistic geography is based on four main principles:
[a] Human awareness
[b] Human work as an agency
[C] Human consciousness
[d] Human creativity
Humanistic geography considers human being as an ‘economic man’ nor treat them as machines. It is a subjective approach which aims at an understanding of man in his environment.
Themes in Humanistic Geography
Humans and environments have a very complex relationship. Y F Tuan tried to explain this complex relation by using five themes. The following are five themes-
[i] Geographical Knowledge: knowledge of geography is a basic instinct needed for the survival of animals. Even non-geographers possess a mental map regarding space, location, place and resources.
[ii] Territory and Place: Like other animals, humans have a sense of belonging to a place or territory, which they protect for their survival.
[iii] Crowding and Privacy: A crowded place often generates psychological stress. However, culture, social institutions and infrastructures reduce these stresses. Man needs privacy in order to generate his own world where he can exercise his creative ability in solitude.
[iv] Livelihood and Economics: Almost all human activities are functional in nature, since they support the social system to which the human being belongs. People plan their economic activities according to their levels of knowledge and technology.
[v] Religion: Religion is a universal institution. Religious culture seeks coherence and clearly structured world view. Humanists argue that we should take into consideration the individual human desire for coherence and also how it differs from person to person.
Supporter/Propounder: Y.F. Tuan Febvre, Vidal de la Blache. Sauer, Woolridge and Hartshorne.
Criticism of Humanism
[i] The researcher can never know for sure whether one has actually succeeded in providing true explanation.
[ii] This approach separates Physical Geography from Human Geography. In Physical Geography, quantitative research is a must.
[iii] It is difficult to build standard, models, and theories with the help of qualitative research.
[iv] The methodology is obscure.
Key Points on Humanism
 Y.F. Tuan was uses the term ‘humanistic geography’ in 1976
 Y.F. Tuan is considered the father of the humanistic school of thought in Geography
 Humanistic geography developed as a criticism against positivism and quantitative revolution in geography.
 Scholars associated with Humanistic approach Y.F. Tuan Febvre, Vidal de la Blache. Sauer, Woolridge and Hartshorne etc.
 Four main principles of Humanistic Geography: [a] Human awareness, [b] Human work as an agency, [C] Human consciousness, [d] Human creativity
 5 Themes in Humanistic Geography – [i] Geographical Knowledge, [ii] Territory and Place, [iii] Crowding and Privacy, [iv] Livelihood and Economics, [v] Religion
N.B- Notes will be updated time to time
PDF Name: Humanism in Geography Notes by Netset Corner
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