Friday, May 24, 2013


by Mark Graham

Structuration theory in geography states that social systems are reproduced through the relationships between systems, structures, actors and their perceptions. Therefore, understanding the modes through which social systems are reproduced will allow for a clearer understanding of the nature of society. However, much of the relevant social theory has not been empirically tested. Thus, by empirically examining general perceptual differences between different built environments, on a macro and a micro level, it is hoped that the links between perceptions, social structures, and the built environment can be more fully understood. A better understanding of these links will, in turn, allow the relevant social theory (in this case, structuration theory) in geography to be advanced from a theoretical to an empirical stage. A clearer understanding of the links between perceptions, the built environment, and the reproduction of social systems will not only advance the field of geography, but will also have ramifications in the fields of psychology, sociology, economics, marketing, and urban planning.
The purpose of this study is to examine how structural differences between locations may result in differences in people’s perceptions about and interactions with the landscape. I hypothesize that there are fundamental differences in the way people perceive and interact with landscapes in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Penzance, England, in part because of the broader structural and environmental differences between these settings. Specifically, I hypothesize that perceptions about preferred forms of transportation to leisure and retail activities will be significantly different between residents of locations that have a significant difference in the modes of transportation to such leisure and retail activities. Bowling Green and Penzance have been chosen as study sites because great differences exist between these cities in how transportation systems to leisure and retail activities are structured.

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