What Is Economic Geography: Definition, Type And Approaches


Man is the central point of the geographical study. Economic Geography is the most important branch of Human Geography that studies the economic activities of man. Man is an active creature so the economic benefit is most important in whatever he does.

Economic Geography: Definition, Type and Approaches

Economic Geography deals with the primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary sectors of the economy. It includes the availability, and distribution of natural resources, productivity, and their role in industrial development. This subject focuses on the role of geographic elements in the growth of the Economy. It also deals with the energy crisis, food and nutrition problems, and patterns of world trade.

In the world, Man is carrying on the various kinds of economic activities for livelihood and highest manner of life. This may be cutting timber, Farming, managing cottage Industries, etc are doing for the fulfillment and betterment of his needs. The difference in these activities in different parts is mainly due to the physical structure, surface, climate, soil, vegetation, and other natural resources, coupled with human activities and technical development.

Thus, The subject matter of economic and commercial Geography is the analysis of the point where, when, why, and how natural resources should be made use of.

Definitions of Economics geography:   

Different geographers have forwarded the definition of Economics geography in a different way. However, all the definitions seem to converge at a point. Therefore, it may be summaries as the study of man’s economic activities with relation to his environment, physical and culture. However, it would be interesting to have a brief review of how individual authorities deal with this matter.

According to Dudley Stamp,’ Economic Geography involves consideration of the geographical and other factors which influence man’s productivity, but only in limited depths, so far as they are connected with production and trade.’

Professor E. W. Zimmermann pointed out that, ‘Economic Geography deals with the economic life of the man with relation to the environment’.

S. Thoman in his book The Geography of Economic Activity has remarked,’ Economic Geography may be defined as an inquiry into the production, exchange, and consump­tion of goods by people in different areas of the world. Particular emphasis is placed on the location of economic activity — upon asking just why economic functions are situated where they are in this world.’

MacFarlane describes,’ Economic Geography as the study of influence exerted on the economic activity of man by his physical environment, and more specifically by the form and structure of the surface of the land, the climatic conditions which prevail upon it and the spatial relations in which its different regions stand to one another.’

In the words of Hartshorn and Alexander: ‘Economic Geography is the study of the spatial variation on the earth’s surface of activities related to producing, exchanging and consuming goods and services. Whenever possible the goal is to develop generalizations and theories to account for these spatial variations.’

Also Read:Human geography – Meaning, Scope and Type

Branches of Economic Geography:

There are many Branches of economic geography. The major sub-branches of Economics Geography are Resource Geography, Agricultural Geography, Industrial Geography, Transport Geography, Marketing Geography, etc.

Economic Geography: Definition, Type and Approaches

Resource geography:

Resource geography is related to the study of resources, their distribution, production, utilization, and conservation. It includes the study of both natural resources and human resources. 

Agricultural geography:

Agricultural geography deals with production, location, and pattern of crop distribution. This Subject seeks to interpret such distribution in terms of the interaction of multivariate factors of the environment both physical and cultural. Thus, it strives to bring light to the spatial variation in agriculture and the reasons for them.

Industrial geography:

Industrial geography is the study of the spatial arrangement of industrial activity. It deals with manufacturing or secondary industry particularly its location and distribution. 

Industrial geography

Transport geography:

Transport geography is the study of the spatial arrangement of transport activity. It studies the patterns and modes of transport, movement of goods and people, and the relationship between transport and other geographic factors.

Marketing geography:

Marketing geography is a new branch of economic geography that studies the spatial variations and spatial organization in marketing activity.

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Approaches to studying the Economic Geography: 

As economic geography is a very wide discipline. In the study of the economic phenomenon using different methodologies, some distinct approaches to study have evolved.

Theoretical economic geography focuses on building theories about spatial arrangement and distribution of economic actions. 

Regional economic geography examines the economic conditions of particular regions or countries of the world. It deals with economic rationalization as well as local economic development. 

Historical economic geography examines the history and development of the spatial economic structure. Using historical data, it examines how centers of population and economic activity shift, what patterns of regional specialization and localization evolve over time, and what factors explain these changes.

Critically economic geography is one of the most important approaches. This approach is taken from the point of view of contemporary critical geography and its philosophy. 

Behavioral economic geography examines the cognitive processes underlying spatial reasoning, place decision making, and behavior of firms and individuals. 

Economic geography is sometimes approached as a branch of anthropogeography that focuses on regional systems of human economic activity. An alternative description of different approaches to the study of human economic activity can be organized around spatiotemporal study, a study of production/consumption of economic items, and study of economic flow. Spatiotemporal systems of study include economic actions of a region, mixed social spaces, and development. 

Alternatively, the study may focus on the production, exchange, distribution, and consumption of items of economic activity. Allowing parameters of space-time and item to vary, a geographer may also examine material flow, commodity flow, population flow, and information flow from different parts of the economic activity system.

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