Geography as a Social Science: Definition & Explanation

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Global, Local & Regional Geography

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 What Is Geography?
  • 1:07 The Human Side of Geography
  • 1:49 Geography as Social Element
  • 2:59 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

Is geography a social science or physical science? This lesson will examine the social aspects of geography. But don't be too social while you're reading this lesson - once you're done, it's time to take a short quiz.

What Is Geography?

When you think about geography, what comes to mind? The first thing most people think of is maps. And that certainly isn't bad, because geography is very much focused on space and position. It focuses on questions like where things are relative to each other and why that matters. But geography isn't about creating maps (that's cartography). Geography is concerned with how space and position affect things shown on maps. Why is a river where it is? Why is a town where it is? Are the river and town related? These are the kinds of questions geography asks. But there is much more to geography.

Geography concerns itself with the Earth's atmosphere and physical surface, including how humans affect those things and, in turn, are affected by them. So, humans are right there in the definition, being part of the landscape. In modern times, humans impact the landscape more than any other force on earth. Therefore, understanding how and why humans affect this, as well as the way the landscape affects our lives, is valuable and important.

The Human Side of Geography

The social side of geography considers how humans and human society relate to the natural landscape and atmosphere. The most common name for this is human geography, and it's a major part of the subject today.

That probably isn't surprising, since human geography is more important today than it ever has been. As the population of the world increases every year, its impact on the landscape and atmosphere increases as well. Humans today are responsible for more extinctions of animals and plants than we've seen in millions of years. Humans are also responsible for pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, changing the climate of the Earth in dangerous ways. So, understanding humans and what motivates them to change the landscape and climate is essential.

Geography as Social Element

What motivates us to change the landscape? Well, lots of things. A supermarket might cut down trees to build its business because it wants to support the livelihoods of those who own the business or who work there. Humans might set also up a national park system to protect an area, because they care about preserving it for future generations.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support