Marceau (1999) and Scale

Marceau’s (1999) article does an excellent job of highlighting the significance of scale across both human and physical geography. This article made me think more deeply about the impacts of scale that I every have had to before, which points to a significant gap in my education in geography. While I have been taught about the MUAP and other various impacts of scale, I feel that these issues have been addressed in isolation or as a mere sidebar to other concepts. As indicated by this article, scale is a fundamental spatial consideration (and often a problem) that should be thoroughly addressed for any research project that considers space. The fact that all entities, patterns, and processes in space are associated with a particular scale (or the “scale dependent effect”) means that it cannot be ignored.

I was particularly interested by Marceau’s discussion of how scale differs between absolute and relative space. The operational and clearly defined idea of scale in absolute space is addressed much more often than the more ill-defined concept of scale in absolute space. I’ll admit that, even after rereading the paragraph several times, I’m still not sure what Marceau means in defining relative scale as “the window through which the investigator chooses to view the world” (p4). If this definition was not explicitly linked to scale, I would consider it to be referring to something more like investigator bias or investigative lens. How is this “window” connected to space? I would have appreciated an example to further clarify this.

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