Scope of Human Geography

The study of the cultural landscape created by the enterprise of man in the background of geographical conditions is the subject matter of human geography. Because geography studies the earth as the habitat of man, therefore man has always been the focus of geographical study. On the strength of his intelligence, he is the most important part of the living component.

The environment not only affects the existence and development of man, but in return man also brings changes in the environment on the basis of the developed techniques and technology; affects him. Man is an independent geographical factor. In this way he leaves a mark on nature by using the resources of the physical environment.

The scope of human geography is very wide. It includes all those substances, actions and thoughts which are directly or indirectly connected with man and his environment.

Many geographers have presented ideas about the subject area of human geography, but here we will present only the opinion of Ellsworth Huntington.

Opinion Of Ellsworth Huntington

The field of human geography propounded by American geographer Ellsworth Huntington is the most extensive and valid. He has divided the facts of human geography into three major categories by making a chart:-

  1. Physical Conditions
  2. Forms Of Life
  3. Human Responses

These three types of facts are interrelated. Huntington was the first to point out that the collective effect of physical conditions occurs in various forms of life (plant, animal and human). These forms of life are also interrelated. The physical conditions, plants and animals react with the human beings, as a result of which the responses of the human beings arise.

1.  Physical Conditions 

In this category (i) the global position of the earth i.e. the planetary relationship of the earth, its nature and size, (ii) landforms and structure, (iii) water bodies, (iv) soils and minerals  and (v) climate is included.

2. Forms of Life

This category includes (i) Plants, (ii) Animals and (iii) Humans.

3. Human Responses or Expressions

There are four subclasses of this category

(a) Material Needs – Food, water, clothes, housing and tools.

(b) Fundamental Occupations – means of transport, hunting, fishing, pastoralism, agriculture, timber cutting and mining.

(c) Efficiency – Manufacturing, commerce, health, cultural inspiration and entertainment. (d)Higher Needs – Government, education, science, religion, art and literature.

Growth and Expansion of Subject Matter:-

Human geography is a dynamic science. Just as the relationship between man and environment is changing with the development of technology, similarly the subject matter of human geography is increasing and expanding with time. For example, in the beginning of the twentieth century, special attention was paid to cultural and economic aspects in human geography, but later they were also made part of the subject matter when new problems and challenges emerged. That is why in the study of human geography forward changes occur naturally.

At present, the new topics which have been included in the study of human geography are Political Dimensions, Social Relevance, Gender Inequality, Public Policy, Urbanization and Urban System, Health and Social Well-being etc.  While incorporating contemporary subjects in the study area, human geography has not only been full of integrating and inter-disciplinary qualities, but many new methods have also been added to its study.