Electoral Geography

Nick Quinton

in Geography

ISBN: 9780199874002
Published online February 2013 | | DOI:
Electoral Geography

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  • Human Geography



Research in electoral geography began with analysis of the spatial patterns in vote returns during the early 20th century. This work established a tradition of spatial analysis that was later paired with quantitative methods. Electoral geography, then, experienced a modicum of popularity when geographers in the West relied heavily on quantitatively driven social inquiry during the 1950s and 1960s. Unfortunately, as many scholars began to abandon these quantitative methodologies in the late 1960s and 1970s in favor of social theory, those practicing electoral geography stood stalwart in the established spatial analytic tradition. As a result, by the 1980s the vast majority of Western academics had left electoral geography to a small group of scholars. While the remaining practitioners still found outlets for their works in trade journals, publications in the most-prestigious journals were typically only in conjunction with events of special importance, such as unusual elections or contentious redistricting. Scholars did, however, alter the practice of electoral geography during this period, even if the changes, by and large, did not follow major shifts in the field of geography. Researchers expanded the scope of electoral geography beyond the analysis of spatial variation in vote returns to vote systems, redistricting, and the role of electoral processes in shaping social worlds. As scholars expanded the scope of electoral geography, however, important omissions remained. Of note are the paucity of research by women and a lack of attention to issues outside Western democracies. It is, then, that the field has been changed, if slowly, from one dominated by quantitative approaches and Western contexts to one dominated by scholarship that includes new approaches and contexts. It remains to be determined, however, if the changes to electoral geography will have meaningful impacts on broader trends in social theory and quantitative methods and yield a return to previous levels of popularity in academe.

Article.  9201 words. 

Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography ; Human Geography

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