The topic of Areal Differentiation in Geography falls under the ‘Perspectives in Human Geography’ sub-heading of UPSC Geography Paper-1 syllabus. This part of the syllabus is very tricky because no matter how many times I read the geographical thinkers and their ideas, I always mixed up between who said what under which heading! I am sure this is true for many of the aspirants with Geography optional.
So I strategized specially for this part. Now, I was a very reluctant note-taker. These are the kind of topics that made note-taking absolutely imperative. I used to read the topic multiple times, get a basic understanding and then write one-page note from my own understanding. This would help me in quick revision a day before exams.
For Areal Differentiation in Geography, I made my notes as follows:
Areal Differentiation in Geography
- Ancient concept given by : Hicateus, Miletus, Strabo.
- Strabo said: Geography is the description of regions.
- The ancient concept continued till early 19th century.
- Hartshorne was a major proponent of Areal Differentiation. He said that the areal differentiation is to study both ‘differences’ as well as ‘similarities’ between regions. It is the study of co-variation of physical and human phenomena with geographic features.
- Critics argued that Hartshorne’s focus on ‘differentiation’ fixed geography into traditionalism. He ignored ‘integration’. Regions are never totally unique. Rather there are always some unifying features across all regions.
- Revival of Areal Differentiation happened in the 1980s due to following reasons:
- Capitalistic Ideas such as investment regions, division of labour. It saw all regions as different and rejected geographically undifferentiated capitalism.
- Social Science: Human agency and social structure was mediated by the local geography and this differentiation explains the different evolution of societies.
- Human Geography: Human actions are functions of the images of the geographical space that humans have in their minds.
- it is difficult to delineate exact boundaries between different geographical regions as physical features and human societies diffuse dynamically.
- This theory was not practically useful because it wasn’t able to contribute towards effective generalization (which is needed to study any subject).
For the topics under geographical thinkers, I referred Majid Hussain’s book. Click for complete Geography Optional Book List that I used. I will slowly upload all my notes for Perspectives in Human Geography part. Please subscribe via email to stay updated.