the ‘Modifiable Area Unit Problem (MAUP)’

Posted by sah:

My interest in Geography lies primarily with issues of health, and human interactions with, and interpretations of, their environments with regards to their health. On that note, in another class I recently completed a literature review discussing the mental health literature and the interpretation of the terms (and thus, environments) “urban” and “rural” as variables influencing depression. I found a great lack in both the quantitative and qualitative description of these terms–most went no further than to throw out a number of people, not even necessarily a density. I think this would be a really interesting subject with which GIS could interact (as a tool, a science, who knows?). What I would like to do is present my seminar on the topic of Modifiable Area Unit Problem (MAUP), and tentatively, in my project, look at how the areas given for the population densities used to define a certain environment (urban or rural) will greatly influence the final qualities of said environments. What is the value and justification given behind the areas for various governmental classifications, for example the Census Metropolitan Area and Census Agglomerations? Hopefully, this problem of “urban” vs. “rural” will lend itself well to an explanation and investigation of the MAUP.


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