Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


‘Scale’ is so self-evidently central to Geography, yet to just take it at face value would overlook its complex disciplinary history. Scale’s meaning and function has frequently been debated by Human Geographers, especially since the 1980s. Consider the following questions that have animated much of this scholarship: “How should we think about and research scale?”, “Do scales exist in a vertical or horizontal sense?”, “What scales are significant and most worthy of study?”, “What scales are overlooked?”, “Is scale something that exists ‘naturally’ or is it something we have socially imagined?”, and “How does the concept of scale shape or constrain our understanding of social processes and politics?”. Some scholars even went as far as to ask: “Is Human Geography better off without scale?”. These critical questions also reflect the twists and turns the discipline has taken. Scale is therefore a useful ‘way in’ for those wanting to understand the recent history of Human Geography and for those wanting to understand the significance of philosophical and theoretical positions on geographical thought. In this chapter, I will chart the key contours of these debates, considering (i) approaches in the 1970s and early 80s, (ii) the subsequent move to understanding the so-called ‘politics’ of scale and its socially constructed nature, (iii) different imaginaries of what scale is (e.g as vertical, horizontal, hierarchical, or like a network), (iv) and finally how some have moved away from scale in favour of more ‘site-based’ approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntroducing Human Geographies
EditorsPaul Cloke, Kelly Dombroski, Mark Goodwin, Junxi Qian, Andrew Williams
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • scale
  • human geography


Dive into the research topics of 'Scale'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this