Meaningful yet useless? Factors behind the retention of questionable concepts in human geography
Dymitrow, Mirek; Brauer, René
Mr Rene Brauer R.Brauer@hull.ac.uk
Research impact officer
The concepts ‘rural’ and ‘urban’ have long been criticized by geographers for their lack of analytical and explanatory power, yet have remained a vital source for conceptual guidance in human geography. Realizing that the continued use of questionable concepts inadvertently runs the risk of compromising communication, misdirecting resources and downgrading social theory, the current status of ‘rural/urban’ creates a paradoxical epiphenomenon of progress-making in geography. We disentangle this paradox in two dimensions. Firstly, we show how a conflation between meaning and utility is what renders us desensitized to the problem. Secondly, we outline 12 extra-scientific factors likely to actuate the binary’s persistent retention. We finally sketch a sensuous template set out to minimize its undesired impact. We concede that the confusion surrounding ‘rural/urban’ in human geography cannot be understood unless the influence of extra-scientific factors is fully taken into account, revealing the concepts’ vestigiality. This, we argue, is the only way forward if we truly want to embrace the rationale of the scientific approach. The principal contribution of our paper is laying the groundwork for this particularly underresearched dimension of ‘rural/urban’ amidst an exceptionally rich conceptual literature on what ‘rural/urban’ ‘are’ or ‘mean’.
|Journal Article Type||Article|
|Publication Date||Jul 3, 2018|
|Journal||Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography|
|Publisher||Taylor & Francis|
|Peer Reviewed||Peer Reviewed|
|APA6 Citation||Dymitrow, M., & Brauer, R. (2018). Meaningful yet useless? Factors behind the retention of questionable concepts in human geography. Geografiska annaler. Series B, Human geography, 100(3), 195-219. https://doi.org/10.1080/04353684.2017.1419071|
|Keywords||Rural; Urban; Concept retention; Knowledge production; Extra-scientific factors; Geographers|
|Additional Information||Peer Review Statement: The publishing and review policy for this title is described in its Aims & Scope.; Aim & Scope: http://www.tandfonline....cope&journalCode=rgab20|
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