Spatial Concepts and Their Application to Geo-Sociology

  • Jeremy R. Porter
  • Frank M. Howell
Part of the GeoJournal Library book series (GEJL, volume 105)


In this chapter we focus on a few of the primary spatial concepts that link individuals and their aggregates to one another in space. We also introduce some of the popular statistical methods for taking these spatial relationships into account in sociological research. Here we move beyond the description of relationships to a discussion of geo-sociological (spatially-centered) methods aimed at linking theory and data through explanatory modeling procedures. Underlying the core interests of such analyses is the accounting for spatial relationships in sociological research. In particular, sociology as a discipline is particularly interested in the effect social structure, its changes, and impact of structure and change on human behavior. Given this interest, sociologists have long been focused on the relationship of individuals, and groups of individuals, to specific ecological contexts. These relationships can be conceptualized through a handful of spatial concepts, including proximity, adjacency, and containment. While many other spatial concepts also exist, this chapter examines these key spatial concepts as influential predictors of individual and group behaviors. Each is further related to a popular existing analytic method used by sociologists in an attempt to highlight the relationship between theoretical development and the empirical analysis of spatial relationships.


Spatial Cluster Spatial Plane Hierarchical Linear Model Spatial Unit Geographically Weight Regression 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeremy R. Porter
    • 1
  • Frank M. Howell
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Brooklyn College & Graduate CenterCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Emory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Mississippi State UniversityStarkvilleUSA

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