Marxist geography

Marxist geography was adopted as a major principle following an era of positivist geography. Positivist geography took heavy criticism form many Marxist and non-Marxist geographers. David Harvey, a figurehead to Marxist geography claimed that positivism was “fundamentally floored” as it focused on models, patterns and trends which occurred spatially, rather than looking at underlying reasons that lead to those trends. Marxist geographers argued that the positivist method did not address the different reasons, either being economically or politically induced for the spatial patterns that they claimed were the fulcrum to all societies.

Marxist geography came to the forefront of geographical concepts between the 1960’s and the 1970’s. Marxist geography, an approach to human geography, uses analytical theories which identify a link between different groups of people to their hierarchical status in their social and working environments. Theoretically based around the principle of capitalism, Marxism identifies that there are close links between social and economic activity. In principle Marxism states that social boundaries are predominately shaped by economic forces such as capital, labour and production. In short it suggests that people and society are shaped, constrained and led by underlying economic forces that are present in all levels of society.

Production is a concept that shaped the Marxist theory. Production, in this area is claimed to be responsible to changes in society which occur every day. Marxist ideas suggest that production is fundamentally important to all human beings as all have to work with objects of nature such as water, land and minerals to secure their existence. This then leads to a hierarchy, a division of classes such as the difference between a labourer and the owner of a plot of land. From this society will be shaped, moulded with the constraints that occur when economic wealth and power is divided un-equally in society. The landowner would have more wealth, an opportunity to expand and consume more goods, where as the labourer would have little wealth and as a result an incapacity to expand, prosper and associate with people of a higher social class. This examples how socially a person or a mass of people can be constrained by the capitalist way by which the western world distributes its wealth to its inhabitants.

Along side this is another theory of surplus value. This accounts why there will always be a divide of wealth in society, the difference between being rich or poor. Labourers will always earn a low wage, as all they have to offer to society is their labour, the profit from the product or end result will then go back to owner, or capitalist and so the gap between rich and poor widens (Dr S. P. RYCROFT). Wealth then determines what people can do and consume and this is the explanation of many social structures from a Marxist viewpoint.

These ideas were used to account for many different social structures and patterns which occurred within society. This model of socio-economic constraint is however based largely on observation, a more general pattern as to why society is shaped the way it is. Marxist geography does have a fundamental floor , it does not take into account the human ability to adapt and change to its surroundings or situation. This simply means that a person does have the ability to break the socio-economic constraints faced throughout the world. The theory of evolution states that human beings have adapted to better themselves in their surroundings. If applied this theory could release the constraints posed by the Marxist viewpoint on many people in the world.

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