Determinism and Possibilism in Geography - General Knowledge Today
Environmental determinism, also known as climatic determinism or geographical This is defined by a stimulus-response reaction. . It is very. Environmentalism included both environmental determinism and the environ- mentalist definition of geography as the study of man-environment relationships. THE ENVIRONMENTAL approach in geography, history, anthropology, psychology, Geographical determinism comes from the “man as sufferer” paradigm in the Interpretation of a human being as a passive sufferer originated in ancient.
The approach argues that causal mechanics for behaviour are to be found in the environment Mitchell,p.
Therefore, all our behaviour is a result of some environmental determination or stimulus. Because of this determination, this approach does not allow for speculations, since stimuli of the environment cause certain reactions and behavioural responses, the human behaviour.
Example of environmental determinism So environmental climatic determinism implies that a society is formed and determined by the physical environment, especially the climate.
The climate influences the psychological mind-set of individuals which in turn then defines the behaviour and therefore also the culture of the society that those individuals form.
For example, we all know the stereotype of Jamaicans with their relaxed, laid back and 'lazy' attitudes. Environmental determinists would argue that this has to do with the fact that Jamaica is based in a tropical climate. On the other hand, environmental determinists say that a climate which has a frequent variability in the weather, such as in the Netherlands, will lead to more determined and driven work ethics. History Environmental determinism rose to prominence in the late 19th century and early 20th century, partly through the work of human geographer Friedrich Ratzel.
Ratzel collapsed society into nature through the concept of Lebensraum. Thus he argued that the concept of state was a natural link between people and environment Mitchell,p.
Environmental Determinism - Geography
The largest pre-colonial polities arose in the Sudanian Savanna belt of West Africa because the horses and camels could transport armies over the terrain.
In other areas, no centralized political organizations existed above the village level.
Colonial powers had little incentive to develop state institutions to protect their colonies against invasion, having divided up Africa at the Berlin Conference. The colonizers instead focused on exploting natural resources and exploitation colonialism. Marcella Alsan argues the prevalence of the tsetse fly hampered early state formation in Africa. African communities were prevented from stockpiling agricultural surplus, working the land, or eating meat.
Because the disease environment hindered the formation of farming communities, early African societies resembled small hunter-gatherer groups and not centralized states. Livestock also diminished the comparative advantage of owning slaves. African societies relied on the use of rival tribesman as slave labor where the fly was prevalent, which impeded long-term societal cooperation.
Contradicting the link between the Inca state and dried potato is that other crops such as maize can also be preserved with only sun. The disease environment[ edit ] Main article: Robinson have achieved notoriety for demonstrating that diseases and terrain have helped shape tendencies towards democracy versus dictatorship, and through these economic growth and development.
An Empirical Investigation,  the authors show that the colonial disease environment shaped the tendency for Europeans to settle the territory or not, and whether they developed systems of agriculture and labor markets that were free and egalitarian versus exploitative and unequal.
Environmental determinism - Wikipedia
These choices of political and economic institutions, they argue, shaped tendencies to democracy or dictatorship over the following centuries. Factor endowment In order to understand the impact and creation of institutions during early state formation, economic historians Stanley Engerman and Kenneth Sokoloff examined the economic development of the Americas during colonization.
These endowments included the climate, soil profitability, crop potential, and even native population density. Institutions formed to take advantage of these factor endowments. Those that were most successful developed an ability to change and adapt to new circumstances over time. For example, the development of economic institutions, such as plantationswas caused by the need for a large property and labor force to harvest sugar and tobacco, while smallholder farms thrived in areas where scale economies were absent.
Though initially profitable, plantation colonies also suffered from large dependent populations over time as slaves and natives were given few rights, limiting the population available to drive future economic progress and technological development. This is demonstrated by the plantation owning elite using their power to secure long lasting government institutions and pass legislation that lead to the persistence of inequality society.
Engerman and Sokoloff found smallholder economies to be more equitable since they discouraged an elite class from forming, and distributed political power democratically to most land-owning males.
These differences in political institutions were also highly influential in the development of schools, as more equitable societies demanded an educated population to make political decisions.
Over time these institutional advantages had exponential effects, as colonies with educated and free populations were better suited to take advantage of technological change during the industrial revolution, granting country wide participation into the booming free-market economy.
Other variables such as factor endowments, technologies, and the creation of property rights are just as crucial in societal development. To encourage state success an institution must be adaptable and suited to find the most economical source of growth. The authors also argue that while not the only means for success, institutional development has long lasting-economic and social effects on the state.
They stress that there is no evidence that geographic endowments influence country incomes other than through institutions.
Other states like Canada with fewer endowments are more stable and have higher per capita incomes. They argue that Diamond correctly stresses the importance of germs and crops in the very long-run of societal technological development. However, Easterly and Levine's findings most support the view that long-lasting institutions most shape economic development outcomes.
Relevant institutions include private property rights and the rule of law. Nugent and James A. Robinson similarly challenge scholars like Barrington Moore who hold that certain factor endowments and agricultural preconditions necessarily lead to particular political and economic organizations.
They favored smallholders, held elections, maintained small militaries, and fought fewer wars. Other states like El Salvador and Guatemala produced coffee on plantations, where individuals were more disenfranchised. Whether a state became a smallholder or plantation state depended not on factor endowments but on norms established under colonialism —namely, legal statues determining access to land, the background of the governing elites, and the degree of permitted political competition.
Direct effects of geography on economic development[ edit ] Effects of terrain on trade and productivity[ edit ] Historians have also noted population densities seem to concentrate on coastlines and that states with large coasts benefit from higher average incomes compared to those in landlocked countries.
Coastal living has proven advantageous for centuries as civilizations relied on the coastline and waterways for trade, irrigation, and as a food source. They also have to rely on costly and time consuming over-land trade, which usually results in lack of access to regional and international markets, further hindering growth. Additionally, interior locations tend to have both lower population densities and labor-productivity levels.