NCERT Textbook - Human Geography Nature And Scope Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

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 Page 1


Unit-I Unit-I Unit-I Unit-I Unit-I
Chapter-1
Human Geography
Nature and Scope
You have already studied ‘Geography as a
Discipline’ in Chapter I of the book,
Fundamentals of Physical Geography (NCERT,
2006). Do you recall the contents? This chapter
has broadly covered and introduced you to the
nature of geography. You are also acquainted
with the important branches that sprout from
the body of geography. If you re-read the
chapter you will be able to recall the link of
human geography with the mother discipline
i.e. geography. As you know geography as a
field of study is integrative, empirical, and
practical. Thus, the reach of geography is
extensive and each and every event or
phenomenon which varies over space and time
can be studied geographically. How do you see
the earth’s surface? Do you realise that the earth
comprises two major components: nature
(physical environment) and life forms including
human beings? Make a list of physical and
human components of your surroundings.
Physical geography studies physical
environment and human geography studies
“the relationship between the physical/natural
and the human worlds, the spatial distributions
of human phenomena and how they come
about, the social and economic differences
between different parts of the world”.
1
You are already aware of the fact that the
core concern of geography as a discipline is to
understand the earth as home of human beings
and to study all those elements which have
sustained them. Thus, emphasis is on study of
nature and human beings. You will realise that
geography got subjected to dualism and the
wide-ranging debates started whether
geography as a discipline should be a law
making/theorising (nomothetic) or
descriptive (idiographic). Whether its subject
matter should be organised and approach of
the study should be regional or systematic?
Whether geographical phenomena be
interpreted theoretically or through historic-
institutional approach? These have been issues
for intellectual exercise but finally you will
appreciate that the dichotomy between physical
and human is not a very valid one because
nature and human are inseparable elements
and should be seen holistically. It is interesting
to note that both physical and human
1
 Agnew J. Livingstone, David N. and Rogers, A.; (1996) Blackwell
Publishing Limited, Malden, U.S.A. p. 1 and 2.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 2


Unit-I Unit-I Unit-I Unit-I Unit-I
Chapter-1
Human Geography
Nature and Scope
You have already studied ‘Geography as a
Discipline’ in Chapter I of the book,
Fundamentals of Physical Geography (NCERT,
2006). Do you recall the contents? This chapter
has broadly covered and introduced you to the
nature of geography. You are also acquainted
with the important branches that sprout from
the body of geography. If you re-read the
chapter you will be able to recall the link of
human geography with the mother discipline
i.e. geography. As you know geography as a
field of study is integrative, empirical, and
practical. Thus, the reach of geography is
extensive and each and every event or
phenomenon which varies over space and time
can be studied geographically. How do you see
the earth’s surface? Do you realise that the earth
comprises two major components: nature
(physical environment) and life forms including
human beings? Make a list of physical and
human components of your surroundings.
Physical geography studies physical
environment and human geography studies
“the relationship between the physical/natural
and the human worlds, the spatial distributions
of human phenomena and how they come
about, the social and economic differences
between different parts of the world”.
1
You are already aware of the fact that the
core concern of geography as a discipline is to
understand the earth as home of human beings
and to study all those elements which have
sustained them. Thus, emphasis is on study of
nature and human beings. You will realise that
geography got subjected to dualism and the
wide-ranging debates started whether
geography as a discipline should be a law
making/theorising (nomothetic) or
descriptive (idiographic). Whether its subject
matter should be organised and approach of
the study should be regional or systematic?
Whether geographical phenomena be
interpreted theoretically or through historic-
institutional approach? These have been issues
for intellectual exercise but finally you will
appreciate that the dichotomy between physical
and human is not a very valid one because
nature and human are inseparable elements
and should be seen holistically. It is interesting
to note that both physical and human
1
 Agnew J. Livingstone, David N. and Rogers, A.; (1996) Blackwell
Publishing Limited, Malden, U.S.A. p. 1 and 2.
© NCERT
not to be republished
2 Fundamentals of Human Geography
phenomena are described in metaphors using
symbols from the human anatomy.
We often talk of  the ‘face’ of the earth, ‘eye’
of the storm, ‘mouth’ of the river, ‘snout’ (nose)
of the glacier, ‘neck’ of the isthmus and ‘profile’
of the soil. Similarly regions, villages, towns
have been described as ‘organisms’. German
geographers describe the ‘state/country’ as a
‘living organism’. Networks of road, railways
and water ways have often been described as
“arteries of circulation”. Can you collect such
terms and expressions from your own
language? The basic questions now arises, can
we separate nature and human when they are
so intricately intertwined?
Human Geography Defined Human Geography Defined Human Geography Defined Human Geography Defined Human Geography Defined
• “Human geography is the synthetic study
of relationship between human societies and
earth’s surface”.                                  Ratzel
Synthesis has been emphasised in the
above definition.
• “Human geography is the study of “the
changing relationship between the unresting
man and the unstable earth.”
Ellen C. Semple
Dynamism in the relationship is the keyword
in Semple’s definition.
• “Conception resulting from a more
synthetic knowledge of thephysical laws
governing our earth and of the relations
between the living beings which inhabit it”.
Paul Vidal de la Blache
Human geography offers a new conception
of the interrelationships between earth and
human beings.
NATURE OF HUMAN GEOGRAPHY
Human geography studies the inter-relationship
between the physical environment and socio-
cultural environment created by human beings
through mutual interaction with each other. You
have already studied the elements of physical
environment in class XI in the book entitled
Fundamentals of Physical Geography (NCERT
2006). You know that these elements are
landforms, soils, climate, water, natural vegetation
and diverse flora and fauna. Can you make a list
of elements which human beings have created
through their activities on the stage provided by
the physical environment? Houses, villages, cities,
road-rail networks, industries, farms, ports, items
of our daily use and all other elements of material
culture have been created by human beings
using the resources provided by the physical
environment. While physical environment has
been greatly modified by human beings, it has
also, in turn, impacted human lives.
Naturalisation of Humans and
Humanisation of Nature
Human beings interact with their physical
environment with the help of technology. It is
not important what human beings produce and
create but it is extremely important ‘with the
help of what tools and techniques do they
produce and create’.
Technology indicates the level of cultural
development of society. Human beings were
able to develop technology after they developed
better understanding of natural laws. For
example, the understanding of concepts of
friction and heat helped us discover fire.
Similarly, understanding of the secrets of DNA
and genetics enabled us to conquer many
diseases. We use the laws of aerodynamics to
develop faster planes. You can see that
knowledge about Nature is extremely important
to develop technology and technology loosens
the shackles of environment on human beings.
In the early stages of their interaction with their
natural environment humans were greatly
influenced by it. They adapted to the dictates
of Nature. This is so because the level of
technology was very low and the stage of
human social development was also primitive.
This type of interaction between primitive
human society and strong forces of nature was
termed as environmental determinism. At
that stage of very low technological development
we can imagine the presence of a naturalised
human, who listened to Nature, was afraid of
its fury and worshipped it.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 3


Unit-I Unit-I Unit-I Unit-I Unit-I
Chapter-1
Human Geography
Nature and Scope
You have already studied ‘Geography as a
Discipline’ in Chapter I of the book,
Fundamentals of Physical Geography (NCERT,
2006). Do you recall the contents? This chapter
has broadly covered and introduced you to the
nature of geography. You are also acquainted
with the important branches that sprout from
the body of geography. If you re-read the
chapter you will be able to recall the link of
human geography with the mother discipline
i.e. geography. As you know geography as a
field of study is integrative, empirical, and
practical. Thus, the reach of geography is
extensive and each and every event or
phenomenon which varies over space and time
can be studied geographically. How do you see
the earth’s surface? Do you realise that the earth
comprises two major components: nature
(physical environment) and life forms including
human beings? Make a list of physical and
human components of your surroundings.
Physical geography studies physical
environment and human geography studies
“the relationship between the physical/natural
and the human worlds, the spatial distributions
of human phenomena and how they come
about, the social and economic differences
between different parts of the world”.
1
You are already aware of the fact that the
core concern of geography as a discipline is to
understand the earth as home of human beings
and to study all those elements which have
sustained them. Thus, emphasis is on study of
nature and human beings. You will realise that
geography got subjected to dualism and the
wide-ranging debates started whether
geography as a discipline should be a law
making/theorising (nomothetic) or
descriptive (idiographic). Whether its subject
matter should be organised and approach of
the study should be regional or systematic?
Whether geographical phenomena be
interpreted theoretically or through historic-
institutional approach? These have been issues
for intellectual exercise but finally you will
appreciate that the dichotomy between physical
and human is not a very valid one because
nature and human are inseparable elements
and should be seen holistically. It is interesting
to note that both physical and human
1
 Agnew J. Livingstone, David N. and Rogers, A.; (1996) Blackwell
Publishing Limited, Malden, U.S.A. p. 1 and 2.
© NCERT
not to be republished
2 Fundamentals of Human Geography
phenomena are described in metaphors using
symbols from the human anatomy.
We often talk of  the ‘face’ of the earth, ‘eye’
of the storm, ‘mouth’ of the river, ‘snout’ (nose)
of the glacier, ‘neck’ of the isthmus and ‘profile’
of the soil. Similarly regions, villages, towns
have been described as ‘organisms’. German
geographers describe the ‘state/country’ as a
‘living organism’. Networks of road, railways
and water ways have often been described as
“arteries of circulation”. Can you collect such
terms and expressions from your own
language? The basic questions now arises, can
we separate nature and human when they are
so intricately intertwined?
Human Geography Defined Human Geography Defined Human Geography Defined Human Geography Defined Human Geography Defined
• “Human geography is the synthetic study
of relationship between human societies and
earth’s surface”.                                  Ratzel
Synthesis has been emphasised in the
above definition.
• “Human geography is the study of “the
changing relationship between the unresting
man and the unstable earth.”
Ellen C. Semple
Dynamism in the relationship is the keyword
in Semple’s definition.
• “Conception resulting from a more
synthetic knowledge of thephysical laws
governing our earth and of the relations
between the living beings which inhabit it”.
Paul Vidal de la Blache
Human geography offers a new conception
of the interrelationships between earth and
human beings.
NATURE OF HUMAN GEOGRAPHY
Human geography studies the inter-relationship
between the physical environment and socio-
cultural environment created by human beings
through mutual interaction with each other. You
have already studied the elements of physical
environment in class XI in the book entitled
Fundamentals of Physical Geography (NCERT
2006). You know that these elements are
landforms, soils, climate, water, natural vegetation
and diverse flora and fauna. Can you make a list
of elements which human beings have created
through their activities on the stage provided by
the physical environment? Houses, villages, cities,
road-rail networks, industries, farms, ports, items
of our daily use and all other elements of material
culture have been created by human beings
using the resources provided by the physical
environment. While physical environment has
been greatly modified by human beings, it has
also, in turn, impacted human lives.
Naturalisation of Humans and
Humanisation of Nature
Human beings interact with their physical
environment with the help of technology. It is
not important what human beings produce and
create but it is extremely important ‘with the
help of what tools and techniques do they
produce and create’.
Technology indicates the level of cultural
development of society. Human beings were
able to develop technology after they developed
better understanding of natural laws. For
example, the understanding of concepts of
friction and heat helped us discover fire.
Similarly, understanding of the secrets of DNA
and genetics enabled us to conquer many
diseases. We use the laws of aerodynamics to
develop faster planes. You can see that
knowledge about Nature is extremely important
to develop technology and technology loosens
the shackles of environment on human beings.
In the early stages of their interaction with their
natural environment humans were greatly
influenced by it. They adapted to the dictates
of Nature. This is so because the level of
technology was very low and the stage of
human social development was also primitive.
This type of interaction between primitive
human society and strong forces of nature was
termed as environmental determinism. At
that stage of very low technological development
we can imagine the presence of a naturalised
human, who listened to Nature, was afraid of
its fury and worshipped it.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Human Geography: Nature and Scope     3
The Naturalisation of Humans The Naturalisation of Humans The Naturalisation of Humans The Naturalisation of Humans The Naturalisation of Humans
Benda lives in the wilds of the Abujh Maad
area of central India. His village consists of
three huts deep in the wilds. Not even birds
or stray dogs that usually crowd villages can
be seen in these areas. Wearing a small
loin cloth and armed with his axe he slowly
surveys the penda (forest) where his tribe
practices a primitive form of agriculture called
shifting cultivation. Benda and his friends
burn small patches of forest to clear them
for cultivation. The ash is used for making
the soil fertile. Benda is happy that the
Mahua trees around him are in bloom. How
lucky I am to be a part of this beautiful
universe, he thinks as he looks up to see
the Mahua, Palash and Sal trees that have
sheltered him since childhood. Crossing the
penda in a gliding motion, Benda makes
his way to a stream. As he bends down to
scoop up a palmful of water, he remembers
to thank Loi-Lugi, the spirit of the forest for
allowing him to quench his thirst. Moving
on with his friends, Benda chews on
succulent leaves and roots. The boys have
been trying to collect Gajjhara and Kuchla,
from the forest. These are special plants
that Benda and his people use. He hopes
the spirits of the forest will be kind and lead
him to these herbs. These are needed to
barter in the madhai or tribal fair coming up
the next full moon. He closes his eyes and
tries hard to recall what the elders had taught
him about these herbs and the places they
are found in. He wishes he had listened more
carefully. Suddenly there is a rustling of
leaves. Benda and his friends know it is the
outsiders who have come searching for them
in the wilds. In a single fluid motion Benda
and his friends disappear behind the thick
canopy of trees and become one with the
spirit of the forest.
The story in the box represents the direct
relationship of a household belonging to an
economically primitive society with nature. Read
about other primitive societies which live in
complete harmony with their natural
environment. You will realise that in all such cases
nature is a powerful force, worshipped, revered
and conserved. There is direct dependence of
human beings on nature for resources which
sustain them. The physical environment for such
societies becomes the “Mother Nature”.
The people begin to understand their
environment and the forces of nature with the
passage of time. With social and cultural
development, humans develop better and more
efficient technology. They move from a state of
necessity to a state of freedom. They create
possibilities with the resources obtained from
the environment. The human activities create
cultural landscape. The imprints of human
activities are created everywhere; health resorts
on highlands, huge urban sprawls, fields,
orchards and pastures in plains and rolling
hills, ports on the coasts, oceanic routes on the
oceanic surface and satellites in the space. The
earlier scholars termed this as possibilism.
Nature provides opportunities and human
being make use of these and slowly nature gets
humanised and starts bearing the imprints of
human endeavour.
Humanisation of Nature
Winters in the town of Trondheim mean fierce
winds and heavy snow. The skies are dark
for months. Kari drives to work in the dark at
8 am. She has special tyres for the winter
and keeps the headlights of her powerful car
switched on. Her office is artificially heated
at a comfortable 23 degrees Celsius. The
campus of the university she works in is built
under a huge glass dome. This dome keeps
the snow out in winter and lets in the sunshine
in the summer . The temperature is controlled
carefully and there is adequate lighting. Even
though fresh vegetables and plants don’t grow
in such harsh weather , Kari keeps an orchid
on her desk and enjoys eating tropical fruits
like banana and kiwi. These are flown in from
warmer areas regularly. With a click of the
mouse, Kari can network with colleagues in
New Delhi. She frequently takes a morning
flight to London and returns in the evening in
time to watch her favourite television serial.
Though Kari is fifty-eight years old, she is
fitter and looks younger than many thirty-
year- olds in other parts of the world.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 4


Unit-I Unit-I Unit-I Unit-I Unit-I
Chapter-1
Human Geography
Nature and Scope
You have already studied ‘Geography as a
Discipline’ in Chapter I of the book,
Fundamentals of Physical Geography (NCERT,
2006). Do you recall the contents? This chapter
has broadly covered and introduced you to the
nature of geography. You are also acquainted
with the important branches that sprout from
the body of geography. If you re-read the
chapter you will be able to recall the link of
human geography with the mother discipline
i.e. geography. As you know geography as a
field of study is integrative, empirical, and
practical. Thus, the reach of geography is
extensive and each and every event or
phenomenon which varies over space and time
can be studied geographically. How do you see
the earth’s surface? Do you realise that the earth
comprises two major components: nature
(physical environment) and life forms including
human beings? Make a list of physical and
human components of your surroundings.
Physical geography studies physical
environment and human geography studies
“the relationship between the physical/natural
and the human worlds, the spatial distributions
of human phenomena and how they come
about, the social and economic differences
between different parts of the world”.
1
You are already aware of the fact that the
core concern of geography as a discipline is to
understand the earth as home of human beings
and to study all those elements which have
sustained them. Thus, emphasis is on study of
nature and human beings. You will realise that
geography got subjected to dualism and the
wide-ranging debates started whether
geography as a discipline should be a law
making/theorising (nomothetic) or
descriptive (idiographic). Whether its subject
matter should be organised and approach of
the study should be regional or systematic?
Whether geographical phenomena be
interpreted theoretically or through historic-
institutional approach? These have been issues
for intellectual exercise but finally you will
appreciate that the dichotomy between physical
and human is not a very valid one because
nature and human are inseparable elements
and should be seen holistically. It is interesting
to note that both physical and human
1
 Agnew J. Livingstone, David N. and Rogers, A.; (1996) Blackwell
Publishing Limited, Malden, U.S.A. p. 1 and 2.
© NCERT
not to be republished
2 Fundamentals of Human Geography
phenomena are described in metaphors using
symbols from the human anatomy.
We often talk of  the ‘face’ of the earth, ‘eye’
of the storm, ‘mouth’ of the river, ‘snout’ (nose)
of the glacier, ‘neck’ of the isthmus and ‘profile’
of the soil. Similarly regions, villages, towns
have been described as ‘organisms’. German
geographers describe the ‘state/country’ as a
‘living organism’. Networks of road, railways
and water ways have often been described as
“arteries of circulation”. Can you collect such
terms and expressions from your own
language? The basic questions now arises, can
we separate nature and human when they are
so intricately intertwined?
Human Geography Defined Human Geography Defined Human Geography Defined Human Geography Defined Human Geography Defined
• “Human geography is the synthetic study
of relationship between human societies and
earth’s surface”.                                  Ratzel
Synthesis has been emphasised in the
above definition.
• “Human geography is the study of “the
changing relationship between the unresting
man and the unstable earth.”
Ellen C. Semple
Dynamism in the relationship is the keyword
in Semple’s definition.
• “Conception resulting from a more
synthetic knowledge of thephysical laws
governing our earth and of the relations
between the living beings which inhabit it”.
Paul Vidal de la Blache
Human geography offers a new conception
of the interrelationships between earth and
human beings.
NATURE OF HUMAN GEOGRAPHY
Human geography studies the inter-relationship
between the physical environment and socio-
cultural environment created by human beings
through mutual interaction with each other. You
have already studied the elements of physical
environment in class XI in the book entitled
Fundamentals of Physical Geography (NCERT
2006). You know that these elements are
landforms, soils, climate, water, natural vegetation
and diverse flora and fauna. Can you make a list
of elements which human beings have created
through their activities on the stage provided by
the physical environment? Houses, villages, cities,
road-rail networks, industries, farms, ports, items
of our daily use and all other elements of material
culture have been created by human beings
using the resources provided by the physical
environment. While physical environment has
been greatly modified by human beings, it has
also, in turn, impacted human lives.
Naturalisation of Humans and
Humanisation of Nature
Human beings interact with their physical
environment with the help of technology. It is
not important what human beings produce and
create but it is extremely important ‘with the
help of what tools and techniques do they
produce and create’.
Technology indicates the level of cultural
development of society. Human beings were
able to develop technology after they developed
better understanding of natural laws. For
example, the understanding of concepts of
friction and heat helped us discover fire.
Similarly, understanding of the secrets of DNA
and genetics enabled us to conquer many
diseases. We use the laws of aerodynamics to
develop faster planes. You can see that
knowledge about Nature is extremely important
to develop technology and technology loosens
the shackles of environment on human beings.
In the early stages of their interaction with their
natural environment humans were greatly
influenced by it. They adapted to the dictates
of Nature. This is so because the level of
technology was very low and the stage of
human social development was also primitive.
This type of interaction between primitive
human society and strong forces of nature was
termed as environmental determinism. At
that stage of very low technological development
we can imagine the presence of a naturalised
human, who listened to Nature, was afraid of
its fury and worshipped it.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Human Geography: Nature and Scope     3
The Naturalisation of Humans The Naturalisation of Humans The Naturalisation of Humans The Naturalisation of Humans The Naturalisation of Humans
Benda lives in the wilds of the Abujh Maad
area of central India. His village consists of
three huts deep in the wilds. Not even birds
or stray dogs that usually crowd villages can
be seen in these areas. Wearing a small
loin cloth and armed with his axe he slowly
surveys the penda (forest) where his tribe
practices a primitive form of agriculture called
shifting cultivation. Benda and his friends
burn small patches of forest to clear them
for cultivation. The ash is used for making
the soil fertile. Benda is happy that the
Mahua trees around him are in bloom. How
lucky I am to be a part of this beautiful
universe, he thinks as he looks up to see
the Mahua, Palash and Sal trees that have
sheltered him since childhood. Crossing the
penda in a gliding motion, Benda makes
his way to a stream. As he bends down to
scoop up a palmful of water, he remembers
to thank Loi-Lugi, the spirit of the forest for
allowing him to quench his thirst. Moving
on with his friends, Benda chews on
succulent leaves and roots. The boys have
been trying to collect Gajjhara and Kuchla,
from the forest. These are special plants
that Benda and his people use. He hopes
the spirits of the forest will be kind and lead
him to these herbs. These are needed to
barter in the madhai or tribal fair coming up
the next full moon. He closes his eyes and
tries hard to recall what the elders had taught
him about these herbs and the places they
are found in. He wishes he had listened more
carefully. Suddenly there is a rustling of
leaves. Benda and his friends know it is the
outsiders who have come searching for them
in the wilds. In a single fluid motion Benda
and his friends disappear behind the thick
canopy of trees and become one with the
spirit of the forest.
The story in the box represents the direct
relationship of a household belonging to an
economically primitive society with nature. Read
about other primitive societies which live in
complete harmony with their natural
environment. You will realise that in all such cases
nature is a powerful force, worshipped, revered
and conserved. There is direct dependence of
human beings on nature for resources which
sustain them. The physical environment for such
societies becomes the “Mother Nature”.
The people begin to understand their
environment and the forces of nature with the
passage of time. With social and cultural
development, humans develop better and more
efficient technology. They move from a state of
necessity to a state of freedom. They create
possibilities with the resources obtained from
the environment. The human activities create
cultural landscape. The imprints of human
activities are created everywhere; health resorts
on highlands, huge urban sprawls, fields,
orchards and pastures in plains and rolling
hills, ports on the coasts, oceanic routes on the
oceanic surface and satellites in the space. The
earlier scholars termed this as possibilism.
Nature provides opportunities and human
being make use of these and slowly nature gets
humanised and starts bearing the imprints of
human endeavour.
Humanisation of Nature
Winters in the town of Trondheim mean fierce
winds and heavy snow. The skies are dark
for months. Kari drives to work in the dark at
8 am. She has special tyres for the winter
and keeps the headlights of her powerful car
switched on. Her office is artificially heated
at a comfortable 23 degrees Celsius. The
campus of the university she works in is built
under a huge glass dome. This dome keeps
the snow out in winter and lets in the sunshine
in the summer . The temperature is controlled
carefully and there is adequate lighting. Even
though fresh vegetables and plants don’t grow
in such harsh weather , Kari keeps an orchid
on her desk and enjoys eating tropical fruits
like banana and kiwi. These are flown in from
warmer areas regularly. With a click of the
mouse, Kari can network with colleagues in
New Delhi. She frequently takes a morning
flight to London and returns in the evening in
time to watch her favourite television serial.
Though Kari is fifty-eight years old, she is
fitter and looks younger than many thirty-
year- olds in other parts of the world.
© NCERT
not to be republished
4 Fundamentals of Human Geography
Can you imagine what has made such a
life style possible? It is technology that has
allowed the people of Trondheim and others to
overcome the constraints imposed by nature. Do
you know about some other such instances?
Such examples are not difficult to find.
A geographer, Griffith Taylor introduced
another concept which reflects a middle path
(Madhyam Marg) between the two ideas of
environmental determinism and possibilism.
He termed it as Neodeterminism or stop and
go determinism. Those of you who live in cities
and those who have visited a city, might have
seen that traffic is regulated by lights on the
cross-roads. Red light means ‘stop’, amber light
provides a gap between red and green lights ‘to
get set’ and green light means ‘go’. The concept
shows that neither is there a situation of
absolute necessity (environmental determinism)
nor is there a condition of absolute freedom
(possibilism). It means that human beings can
conquer nature by obeying it.  They have to
respond to the red signals and can proceed in
their pursuits of development when nature
permits the modifications. It means that
possibilities can be created within the limits
which do not damage the environment and there
is no free run without accidents. The free run
which the developed economies attempted to
take has already resulted in the green house
effect, ozone layer depletion, global warming,
receding glaciers and degrading lands. The
neo-determinism conceptually attempts to
bring a balance nullifying the ‘either’ ‘or’
dichotomy.
Human Geography through
the Corridors of Time
The process of adaptation, adjustment with and
modification of the environment started with the
appearance of human beings over the surface
of the earth in different ecological niches. Thus,
if we imagine the beginning of human
geography with the interaction of environment
and human beings, it has its roots deep in
history. Thus, the concerns of human
geography have a long temporal continuum
though the approaches to articulate them have
changed over time. This dynamism in
approaches and thrusts shows the vibrant
nature of the discipline. Earlier there was little
interaction between different societies and the
knowledge about each other was limited.
Travellers and explorers used to disseminate
information about the areas of their visits.
Navigational skills were not developed and
voyages were fraught with dangers. The late
fifteenth century witnessed attempts of
explorations in Europe and slowly the myths
and mysteries about countries and people
started to open up. The colonial period provided
impetus to further explorations in order to
access the resources of the regions and to obtain
inventorised information. The intention here is
not to present an in-depth historical account
but to make you aware of the processes of steady
development of human geography. The
summarised Table 1.1 will introduce you to the
broad stages and the thrust of human
geography as a sub-field of geography.
• Welfare or humanistic school of thought
in human geography was mainly concerned
with the different aspects of social well-being
of the people. These included aspects such
as housing, health and education.
Geographers have already introduced a
paper as Geography of Social well-being in
the Post Graduate curriculum’.
• Radical school of thought employed
Marxian theory to explain the basic cause
of poverty , deprivation and social inequality .
Contemporary social problems were related
to the development of capitalism.
• Behavioural school of thought laid great
emphasis on lived experience and also on
the perception of space by social categories
based on ethnicity, race and religion, etc.
Fields and Sub-fields of Human Geography
Human geography, as you have seen, attempts
to explain the relationship between all elements
of human life and the space they occur over.
Thus, human geography assumes a highly
inter-disciplinary nature. It develops close
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 5


Unit-I Unit-I Unit-I Unit-I Unit-I
Chapter-1
Human Geography
Nature and Scope
You have already studied ‘Geography as a
Discipline’ in Chapter I of the book,
Fundamentals of Physical Geography (NCERT,
2006). Do you recall the contents? This chapter
has broadly covered and introduced you to the
nature of geography. You are also acquainted
with the important branches that sprout from
the body of geography. If you re-read the
chapter you will be able to recall the link of
human geography with the mother discipline
i.e. geography. As you know geography as a
field of study is integrative, empirical, and
practical. Thus, the reach of geography is
extensive and each and every event or
phenomenon which varies over space and time
can be studied geographically. How do you see
the earth’s surface? Do you realise that the earth
comprises two major components: nature
(physical environment) and life forms including
human beings? Make a list of physical and
human components of your surroundings.
Physical geography studies physical
environment and human geography studies
“the relationship between the physical/natural
and the human worlds, the spatial distributions
of human phenomena and how they come
about, the social and economic differences
between different parts of the world”.
1
You are already aware of the fact that the
core concern of geography as a discipline is to
understand the earth as home of human beings
and to study all those elements which have
sustained them. Thus, emphasis is on study of
nature and human beings. You will realise that
geography got subjected to dualism and the
wide-ranging debates started whether
geography as a discipline should be a law
making/theorising (nomothetic) or
descriptive (idiographic). Whether its subject
matter should be organised and approach of
the study should be regional or systematic?
Whether geographical phenomena be
interpreted theoretically or through historic-
institutional approach? These have been issues
for intellectual exercise but finally you will
appreciate that the dichotomy between physical
and human is not a very valid one because
nature and human are inseparable elements
and should be seen holistically. It is interesting
to note that both physical and human
1
 Agnew J. Livingstone, David N. and Rogers, A.; (1996) Blackwell
Publishing Limited, Malden, U.S.A. p. 1 and 2.
© NCERT
not to be republished
2 Fundamentals of Human Geography
phenomena are described in metaphors using
symbols from the human anatomy.
We often talk of  the ‘face’ of the earth, ‘eye’
of the storm, ‘mouth’ of the river, ‘snout’ (nose)
of the glacier, ‘neck’ of the isthmus and ‘profile’
of the soil. Similarly regions, villages, towns
have been described as ‘organisms’. German
geographers describe the ‘state/country’ as a
‘living organism’. Networks of road, railways
and water ways have often been described as
“arteries of circulation”. Can you collect such
terms and expressions from your own
language? The basic questions now arises, can
we separate nature and human when they are
so intricately intertwined?
Human Geography Defined Human Geography Defined Human Geography Defined Human Geography Defined Human Geography Defined
• “Human geography is the synthetic study
of relationship between human societies and
earth’s surface”.                                  Ratzel
Synthesis has been emphasised in the
above definition.
• “Human geography is the study of “the
changing relationship between the unresting
man and the unstable earth.”
Ellen C. Semple
Dynamism in the relationship is the keyword
in Semple’s definition.
• “Conception resulting from a more
synthetic knowledge of thephysical laws
governing our earth and of the relations
between the living beings which inhabit it”.
Paul Vidal de la Blache
Human geography offers a new conception
of the interrelationships between earth and
human beings.
NATURE OF HUMAN GEOGRAPHY
Human geography studies the inter-relationship
between the physical environment and socio-
cultural environment created by human beings
through mutual interaction with each other. You
have already studied the elements of physical
environment in class XI in the book entitled
Fundamentals of Physical Geography (NCERT
2006). You know that these elements are
landforms, soils, climate, water, natural vegetation
and diverse flora and fauna. Can you make a list
of elements which human beings have created
through their activities on the stage provided by
the physical environment? Houses, villages, cities,
road-rail networks, industries, farms, ports, items
of our daily use and all other elements of material
culture have been created by human beings
using the resources provided by the physical
environment. While physical environment has
been greatly modified by human beings, it has
also, in turn, impacted human lives.
Naturalisation of Humans and
Humanisation of Nature
Human beings interact with their physical
environment with the help of technology. It is
not important what human beings produce and
create but it is extremely important ‘with the
help of what tools and techniques do they
produce and create’.
Technology indicates the level of cultural
development of society. Human beings were
able to develop technology after they developed
better understanding of natural laws. For
example, the understanding of concepts of
friction and heat helped us discover fire.
Similarly, understanding of the secrets of DNA
and genetics enabled us to conquer many
diseases. We use the laws of aerodynamics to
develop faster planes. You can see that
knowledge about Nature is extremely important
to develop technology and technology loosens
the shackles of environment on human beings.
In the early stages of their interaction with their
natural environment humans were greatly
influenced by it. They adapted to the dictates
of Nature. This is so because the level of
technology was very low and the stage of
human social development was also primitive.
This type of interaction between primitive
human society and strong forces of nature was
termed as environmental determinism. At
that stage of very low technological development
we can imagine the presence of a naturalised
human, who listened to Nature, was afraid of
its fury and worshipped it.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Human Geography: Nature and Scope     3
The Naturalisation of Humans The Naturalisation of Humans The Naturalisation of Humans The Naturalisation of Humans The Naturalisation of Humans
Benda lives in the wilds of the Abujh Maad
area of central India. His village consists of
three huts deep in the wilds. Not even birds
or stray dogs that usually crowd villages can
be seen in these areas. Wearing a small
loin cloth and armed with his axe he slowly
surveys the penda (forest) where his tribe
practices a primitive form of agriculture called
shifting cultivation. Benda and his friends
burn small patches of forest to clear them
for cultivation. The ash is used for making
the soil fertile. Benda is happy that the
Mahua trees around him are in bloom. How
lucky I am to be a part of this beautiful
universe, he thinks as he looks up to see
the Mahua, Palash and Sal trees that have
sheltered him since childhood. Crossing the
penda in a gliding motion, Benda makes
his way to a stream. As he bends down to
scoop up a palmful of water, he remembers
to thank Loi-Lugi, the spirit of the forest for
allowing him to quench his thirst. Moving
on with his friends, Benda chews on
succulent leaves and roots. The boys have
been trying to collect Gajjhara and Kuchla,
from the forest. These are special plants
that Benda and his people use. He hopes
the spirits of the forest will be kind and lead
him to these herbs. These are needed to
barter in the madhai or tribal fair coming up
the next full moon. He closes his eyes and
tries hard to recall what the elders had taught
him about these herbs and the places they
are found in. He wishes he had listened more
carefully. Suddenly there is a rustling of
leaves. Benda and his friends know it is the
outsiders who have come searching for them
in the wilds. In a single fluid motion Benda
and his friends disappear behind the thick
canopy of trees and become one with the
spirit of the forest.
The story in the box represents the direct
relationship of a household belonging to an
economically primitive society with nature. Read
about other primitive societies which live in
complete harmony with their natural
environment. You will realise that in all such cases
nature is a powerful force, worshipped, revered
and conserved. There is direct dependence of
human beings on nature for resources which
sustain them. The physical environment for such
societies becomes the “Mother Nature”.
The people begin to understand their
environment and the forces of nature with the
passage of time. With social and cultural
development, humans develop better and more
efficient technology. They move from a state of
necessity to a state of freedom. They create
possibilities with the resources obtained from
the environment. The human activities create
cultural landscape. The imprints of human
activities are created everywhere; health resorts
on highlands, huge urban sprawls, fields,
orchards and pastures in plains and rolling
hills, ports on the coasts, oceanic routes on the
oceanic surface and satellites in the space. The
earlier scholars termed this as possibilism.
Nature provides opportunities and human
being make use of these and slowly nature gets
humanised and starts bearing the imprints of
human endeavour.
Humanisation of Nature
Winters in the town of Trondheim mean fierce
winds and heavy snow. The skies are dark
for months. Kari drives to work in the dark at
8 am. She has special tyres for the winter
and keeps the headlights of her powerful car
switched on. Her office is artificially heated
at a comfortable 23 degrees Celsius. The
campus of the university she works in is built
under a huge glass dome. This dome keeps
the snow out in winter and lets in the sunshine
in the summer . The temperature is controlled
carefully and there is adequate lighting. Even
though fresh vegetables and plants don’t grow
in such harsh weather , Kari keeps an orchid
on her desk and enjoys eating tropical fruits
like banana and kiwi. These are flown in from
warmer areas regularly. With a click of the
mouse, Kari can network with colleagues in
New Delhi. She frequently takes a morning
flight to London and returns in the evening in
time to watch her favourite television serial.
Though Kari is fifty-eight years old, she is
fitter and looks younger than many thirty-
year- olds in other parts of the world.
© NCERT
not to be republished
4 Fundamentals of Human Geography
Can you imagine what has made such a
life style possible? It is technology that has
allowed the people of Trondheim and others to
overcome the constraints imposed by nature. Do
you know about some other such instances?
Such examples are not difficult to find.
A geographer, Griffith Taylor introduced
another concept which reflects a middle path
(Madhyam Marg) between the two ideas of
environmental determinism and possibilism.
He termed it as Neodeterminism or stop and
go determinism. Those of you who live in cities
and those who have visited a city, might have
seen that traffic is regulated by lights on the
cross-roads. Red light means ‘stop’, amber light
provides a gap between red and green lights ‘to
get set’ and green light means ‘go’. The concept
shows that neither is there a situation of
absolute necessity (environmental determinism)
nor is there a condition of absolute freedom
(possibilism). It means that human beings can
conquer nature by obeying it.  They have to
respond to the red signals and can proceed in
their pursuits of development when nature
permits the modifications. It means that
possibilities can be created within the limits
which do not damage the environment and there
is no free run without accidents. The free run
which the developed economies attempted to
take has already resulted in the green house
effect, ozone layer depletion, global warming,
receding glaciers and degrading lands. The
neo-determinism conceptually attempts to
bring a balance nullifying the ‘either’ ‘or’
dichotomy.
Human Geography through
the Corridors of Time
The process of adaptation, adjustment with and
modification of the environment started with the
appearance of human beings over the surface
of the earth in different ecological niches. Thus,
if we imagine the beginning of human
geography with the interaction of environment
and human beings, it has its roots deep in
history. Thus, the concerns of human
geography have a long temporal continuum
though the approaches to articulate them have
changed over time. This dynamism in
approaches and thrusts shows the vibrant
nature of the discipline. Earlier there was little
interaction between different societies and the
knowledge about each other was limited.
Travellers and explorers used to disseminate
information about the areas of their visits.
Navigational skills were not developed and
voyages were fraught with dangers. The late
fifteenth century witnessed attempts of
explorations in Europe and slowly the myths
and mysteries about countries and people
started to open up. The colonial period provided
impetus to further explorations in order to
access the resources of the regions and to obtain
inventorised information. The intention here is
not to present an in-depth historical account
but to make you aware of the processes of steady
development of human geography. The
summarised Table 1.1 will introduce you to the
broad stages and the thrust of human
geography as a sub-field of geography.
• Welfare or humanistic school of thought
in human geography was mainly concerned
with the different aspects of social well-being
of the people. These included aspects such
as housing, health and education.
Geographers have already introduced a
paper as Geography of Social well-being in
the Post Graduate curriculum’.
• Radical school of thought employed
Marxian theory to explain the basic cause
of poverty , deprivation and social inequality .
Contemporary social problems were related
to the development of capitalism.
• Behavioural school of thought laid great
emphasis on lived experience and also on
the perception of space by social categories
based on ethnicity, race and religion, etc.
Fields and Sub-fields of Human Geography
Human geography, as you have seen, attempts
to explain the relationship between all elements
of human life and the space they occur over.
Thus, human geography assumes a highly
inter-disciplinary nature. It develops close
© NCERT
not to be republished
Human Geography: Nature and Scope     5
Table 1.1: Broad Stages and Thrust of Human Geography
interface with other sister disciplines in social
sciences in order to understand and explain
human elements on the surface of the earth.
With the expansion of knowledge, new sub-
fields emerge and it has also happened to
human geography. Let us examine these fields
and sub-fields of Human Geography (Table 1.2).
You would have noticed that the list is
large and comprehensive. It reflects the
expanding realm of human geography. The
boundaries between sub-fields often overlap.
What follows in this book in the form of
chapters will provide you a fairly widespread
coverage of different aspects of human
geography. The exercises, the activities and the
case studies will provide you with some
empirical instances so as to have a better
understanding of its subject matter.
Broad Features
Imperial and trade interests prompted the discovery and
exploration of new areas. An encyclopaedic description of
the area formed an important aspect of the geographer’s
account.
Elaborate description of all aspects of a region were
undertaken. The idea was that all the regions were part of
a whole, i.e. (the earth); so, understanding the parts in
totality would lead to an understanding of the whole.
The focus was on identifying the uniqueness of any region
and understanding how and why it was different from
others.
Marked by the use of computers and sophisticated
statistical tools. Laws of physics were often applied to
map and analyse human phenomena. This phase was
called the quantitative revolution. The main objective was
to identify mappable patterns  for different human
activities.
Discontentment with the quantitative revolution and its
dehumanised manner of doing geography led to the
emergence of three new schools of thought of human
geography in the 1970s. Human geography was made more
relevant to the socio-political reality by the emergence of
these schools of thought. Consult the box below to know
a little bit more about these schools of thought.
The grand generalisations and the applicability of universal
theories to explain the human conditions were questioned.
The importance of understanding each local context in
its own right was emphasised.
Approaches
Exploration and
description
Regional analysis
Areal differentiation
Spatial organisation
Emergence of
humanistic, radical
and behavioural
schools
Post-modernism in
geography
Period
Early Colonial
period
Later Colonial
period
1930s through the
inter-War period
Late 1950s to the
late 1960s
1970s
1990s
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