Urban Social Geography, Urban and Metropolitan Area Development, Urban Policy
Urban areas are the microcosm of society, growth centers of a country’s economy, the location of research and development and gravitational centers of cultural and societal change. Social and societal developments have their real world manifestations in urban space and social and economic developments in urban areas are reflected in structural characteristics of urban sub-areas. The structure, dynamics and distribution of the urban population influences the financing of urban functions and developments in the housing and labor markets. Market potentials and private sector investment decisions, too, are related to the development of urban and metropolitan areas.
This field of research deals with (1) population structure and demographic change, and the development of urban areas as centers of employment and places to live, (2) economic or demographic phenomena and their differentiation (their concentration, densities, distribution, growth) in urban space (3) questions of urban development and policy with a view on building up long term local comparative advantages. Micro scale urban social geography analyses detailed socio-economic structural patterns and processes of change and the the increasing differentiation of urban social milieus at the block level using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Survey methods are used to analyze activity systems/patterns of individuals or households, as well as preferences, felt needs, perceived quality of the urban environment, locational/residential behavior or social group behavioral patterns, appraisal, group perception and evaluation of spaces. The results urban research increasingly serve as a basis for decisions on public investment, allocation of resources, and socio-economic and urban development policy.