Table of Contents | Background
& Objective | Contributors
Spatially Integrated Social Science: Chapter 13
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Spatial Perspectives and Analytical Frameworks in Urban Research
A spatial perspective that encompasses geographic, technological, and socioeconomic, dimensions is required for understanding many problems in contemporary cities. In this chapter the author first presents a spatial perspective that views geographic location, transportation mode and communications means, and relevant socioeconomic characteristics as factors jointly determining functional distance and hence the spatial positions of places and people. The theoretical discussion of this perspective is followed by an empirical analysis of commuting data for the Boston Metropolitan Area to illustrate the wide range of factors influencing spatial interaction. The author then applies this spatial perspective to address key issues in two important areas of urban research. One area is urban low-income labor markets, focusing on questions concerning access to employment opportunities in dispersing metropolitan economies. Using an analytical framework coherent with the spatial perspective described here, it is found that workers' spatial position in an urban labor market in the United States is determined primarily by their transportation mode, not by their residential location. The other area is telecommuting, focusing on the effects of telecommunications on travel behavior and residential location choice. By examining the roles of geographic, technologic, and socioeconomic factors in forming and traversing the physical and virtual components of activity space, it is shown that analytical capacity can be created for understanding spatial impacts of telecommunications under different scenarios.