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Geographic Information Systems for the Social Sciences

Geographic Information Systems for the Social Sciences
Investigating Space and Place

September 2005 | 272 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
'The Steinbergs have produced a very relevant book for the times. . . . While many books have emerged on the details of GIS, few resources exist to help teach the merger of GIS with more standard research methods. The Steinbergs accomplish this goal in a way that is readily accessible even to undergraduates.'ùTheodore Wagenaar, Miami Universityáá 'The Steinbergs take the reader through all of the essential foundations of GISà using examples drawn from the social sciences throughout. This book will be essential reading for any social scientist looking for a straightforward introduction to GIS.'ùMike Goodchild, University of California, Santa Barbaraáá Geographic Information Systems for the Social Sciences: Investigating Space and Place is the first book to take a cutting-edge approach to integrating spatial concepts into the social sciences. In this text, authors Steven J. Steinberg and Sheila L. Steinberg simplify GIS (Geographic Information Systems) for practitioners and students in the social sciences through the use of examples and actual program exercises so that they can become comfortable incorporating this research tool into their repertoire and scope of interest. The authors provide learning objectives for each chapter, chapter summaries, links to relevant Web sites, as well as suggestions for student research projects.áá Key Features:Presents step-by-step guidance for integrating GIS with both quantitative and qualitative research Provides an introduction to the use of GIS technology written at an accessible level for individuals without GIS experience while providing depth and guidance appropriate to experienced GIS usersá Offers an associated interactive Web siteùhttp:/www.socialsciencegis.orgùto provide a forum for sharing experience and ideas, input to the authors, and a variety of other examples, data, and information related to the topics covered in the text Geographic Information Systems for the Social Sciences offers a nuts-and-bolts introduction to GIS for undergraduate and graduate students taking methods courses across the social sciences. It is an excellent textbook for courses dedicated to GIS research and its applications in the fields of Sociology, Criminology, Public Health, Geography, Anthropology, Political Science, and Environmental Studies. It is also a valuable resource for any social scientist or practitioner interested in applying GIS technology to his or her work.An Instructor's Resource CD, containing PowerPoint slides, test questions, and suggested Web site links,áamong other items, is also availableáto all professors adopting this text.
Organization of this book

Chapter Summaries

Social Inequality in Chicago Slums

Railroads as Indicators of Civilized Society

Early Social Ecology: Spatial Studies of Chicago

Relevant Web Sites

1. Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
What is a Geographic Information System?

Understanding GIS

The "G" in GIS

The "I" in GIS

The "S" in GIS


Relevant Web Sites

2. GIS Basics
An Example of a Spatially-Based Study

GIS Data Formats

Spatial Data Formats

GIS Data Models

Topological and Raster Data Models and Analysis Approaches

Data Compression and Packaging

Essential Mapping Concepts

So What Do I Do?

GIS Output


Relevant Web Sites

Suggested Reading

3. Topics for Sociospatial Research

What Value Does GIS Present in Social Science Research?

Exploring and Integrating Information

Determining Project Goals

Guiding Questions

How To: Steps in the Process

Relevant Web Sites

4. Research Design
Inductive Versus Deductive Approach to Research

What Is the Purpose of Your Research?

Stages of Sociospatial Research for Deductive Research

The Role of Time

Errors in Human Inquiry

Ecological Fallacy

Ethics and GIS

Relevant Web Sites

Suggested Reading

5. Qualitative Research Methods and GIS

Grounded Theory: GIS Using an Inductive Approach

Grounded Theory and GIS

Sociospatial Grounded Theory Using GIS

Questions to Guide Integration of GIS Into Field Research

Local Sources of Data

Oral History Interviews

Participant Observation

News as a Source of Data

Ethnography and GIS

Case Studies and GIS

Public Participation and GIS

Relevant Web Sites

6. GIS Data Collection and Development (Sources, Input, and Output)

Data Acquisition

Evaluating Data Suitability

Obtaining GIS Data From the Internet

Obtaining Data From Offline Sources

How Can I Use My Own Data?

Approaching the Use of GIS With and Without Computer in the Field

Data Collection Considerations

Unit of Analysis

Database Concepts and GIS

Rules for GIS Database Development

Creating GIS-Friendly Data Tables

Integrating Other Types of Data

GIS Output


Relevant Web Sites

7. Measurement

Type of Data Source: Primary or Secondary

Concepts, Variables, and Attributes

Operationalization of Concepts in GIS

Different Data Types: Matching Geographic and Social Variables?

Validity and Reliability

Data Sampling and GIS

Study Area and Sample Unit Boundaries

Factors Affecting Choice of GIS Variables

Relevant Web Sites

Suggested Reading

8. Data Documentation and Model Development
The Importance of Ground Truthing Data

Documenting Data Accuracy and Quality (Metadata)

Analytical Approach

Phases of Abstraction

Statistical Outputs From GIS

Relevant Web Sites

9. Analysis, Interpretation, and Application
Analysis Techniques

Cartographic Classification

Buffer and Overlay

Proximity Polygons and Nearest Neighbors

Social Networks and Network Analysis

Topographic Tools

Spatial Interpolation and Simulation


When to Use GIS as a Problem-Solving Tool

Potential Pitfalls

Relevant Web Sites

10. Future Opportunities for Social Research and GIS
Linking GIS and the Social Sciences

Using GIS to Study Society and Change

Identifying Social Inequality

GIS City Case Example

Government and GIS

Data Continuity Over Time

Metadata Documentation of Your Data

Future Directions for GIS and Social Sciences

Visualization and GIS

Faster Response Time

Impact of Tools for the Future

Parting Thoughts

Some Suggestions for Student Research Projects

Relevant Web Sites

Web Links

This book will be essential for the Data Analysis and Information management modules on the course. It is pitched at about the right level for the students, and will be helpful to both those who have used GIS before, and those who wish to improve their knowledge and skills. A very useful text.

Ms Helen Poole
Social Science , Coventry University
July 15, 2010

For instructors

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