Difference Between Humanistic Geography and Positivistic Approach

1000 Words Aug 2nd, 2010 4 Pages
Difference Between Humanistic Geography and Positivistic Approach
There are definite differences between positivism and humanistic methods that geographers use. Positivism, which has it’s roots in quantitative theories, excludes the human element and includes such fundamentals as cumulative data. Humanistic geography has it’s roots in qualitative procedures and focuses on the combination of research with the people.
Positivism is a rigorous and formal way to collect and analyze data that was developed around the 1960’s by Auguste Comte (1798-1857) who is also credited with formalizing it. Studies are clear and straight forward and researchers believe that there is only one method that all sciences should rely on. Positivism believes
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Within the humanistic views there are several different ways of thinking; pragmatism, phenomenology, existentialism, and idealism. While existentialism and idealism have not been very influential in geography, pragmatism and phenomenology have been. Pragmatism believes that every human action is based on human perceptions and experiences. The focus is on groups or societies rather then on individuals. Phenomenology believes that knowledge is subjective and that the understanding of the individual is crucial. Researchers who use this method need to be able to be sympathetic and have a deep understanding of the issue being researched. Humanistic researchers believe that it is impossible to separate the mind and reality and therefore there cannot be a set of standards and reproducible methods to be used. These geographers will use a more loosely structured set of ideas and consider the individual being studied as well as the geographer’s own intuition and interpretation. One prominent geographer named Yi-Fu Tuan, who was born in 1930, was critical of geography that did not include the humanistic factor. Landscapes, he believed, were often a result of the humans living around or near them. For example, gardens were a persons attempt to control the environment. The humanistic approach allows the scholar to explore a wide range of human experiences, but it lacks rigorous procedures of objective…