Radicalism in Geography





Radicalism in Geography

The radical angle in geography begun in the 1960s as a response to the quantitative revolution and acts of positivism that attempted to transform the subject to a spatial science that had immense stress on location analysis. Politicized masses were behind the radicalization process. Early years of radicalization saw the process become unpopular because of association with Thatcherism and Reaganomics, two new political movements at the time. Later years saw radicalization employ a critic perspective within a liberal and capitalistic society. The society was highly characterized by the belief in Marxian analysis. Fundamental geographers followed the Marxist theory and employed Marxist elements in their studies and general work. Followers of radical geography were concentrated on social matters revolving around crime, delinquency, racism, sexism, exploitation of juveniles, and discrimination against blacks, females, and non-whites. Radicalization of Geography was a counter response to capitalist related crisis in the society.

The 1980s experienced the emergence of another form of radicalization commonly referred to as philosophical realism. The novel approach pioneered by sociologist Anthony Giddens followed the structural theory therefore making geography have an elevated potential for influencing the human society. As a solution to capitalist issues, it was argued by Peet that redistribution of income and novel taxation policies are insufficient to deal with problems arising from poverty. The pioneer argued that inequality was the core characteristic of the capitalist method in production. In response, the radicals argued that substitute environmental designs and replacement of central bureaucracies by anarchistic methods of social control was required and this was to be the priority of all geographers. The argument influenced many geographers as their writings begun to include many concepts under the realist approach. Cloke Philo, Peet, and Sadlet were the differentiators of realist and Marxist approaches. The pioneers argued that all Marxist were realists, but not all realists were Marxists.

The social movements influenced geography from students to senior scholars within the education system using social relevant publications in public platforms such as newspapers and magazines. The literature challenged all persons within the field to engage in the challenging of traditional geography to the novel spatial science. In 1969, the University of Worcester published the Antipode, a radical article of geography that went to dictate writing approaches for research papers by younger geographers in order to include revolutionary meanings in the documents. Poverty from capitalist approaches was rampant during the revolution and western response reflected the vibrancy of the social uproar against actions such as the American war on Vietnam, Nascent Green Movement and the USA civil rights movement. The American economic system engaged in permissiveness and misuse of third world resources while the social system engaged in discrimination of feminine and minority groups.

Radicalization transformed the field of Geography in many ways ranging from documentation to public relevance. One of the initial changes was in the manners in which geographers fashioned their writings. An example can be seen in Walker who wrote his documents from the left to the right as a function of integrating Marxist and progressive Marxist frameworks. Moreover, the literature under the novel revolution was necessitated to have positive social agendas in order to challenge traditional geography. Walker argued that the new form of writing broadened the intellectual capacities of geographers. Another impact of radicalization is the development of the perspective ‘political economy’. Included in the writings of Peet, the political economy highlighted the relationship between politics and finance as a function for exposing negative capitalist approaches facilitating their eradication.

The inclusion of realistic and Marxist forms of thinking was another influence of radicalization on geography. As witnessed in the Association of American Geographers in 1969, masses of radical documents were submitted. It is argued that the number of radicals was never big, but their realist and Marxist publications were numerous enough to effect positive social change. The influence streamed down to sub disciplines of geography as seen urban geography. Employing the political economy approach, geographers analyzed how urban centers acted as labor bazaars. Equally, commodity consumption patterns were evaluated as functions for production and population control. Radicalization ultimately influenced access to resources and their application in production processes.

Radicalization of geography was a function of social movements that resulted from the negatives of capitalism. The salient features of the movement were exposures of inequality, crime, discrimination, environmental degradation, and discrimination against women, blacks, and non-whites in capitalist nations. Radicalization highlighted the weaknesses of traditional geography bringing about cultural transformation. The desired culture had null sexist, discriminative, and permissive characteristics. The political economy perspective brought about centralization of economic functions as it favored self-sufficient small-scale social units unlike capitalism. Centralization allowed more regulation of resource access and utilization in capitalist nations especially in third world countries. Public literature was the core weapon employed by radical geographers in the addressing of social problems. In conclusion, it can be said that radicalization of geography was a transformation from private control of the government to public ownership if state arms in small unions.

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