Text, Textual Analysis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The concept 'text' has become important in human geography in the last 20 years. It is widely understood as the content of written language, spoken words, or symbolic content embedded in built physical form. Text is examined by geographers as a complex form of communication that often seamlessly builds understandings and realities. What geographers have identified as text is enormous: city-growth coalition discourses, mayoral and politician pronouncements, family storytelling, linguistic utterances of planners, community architectural styles, everyday newspaper reportage, informal banter on the streets, federal codifying of housing policy, and many other things. Geographers currently apply multiple interpretations to how text made and used is powerful. Two prominent takes are most influential: neo-Marxian and neo-Foucaultian. Marxists posit intimate connections between text and the deploying of class power in diverse and variegated capitalist settings. Here, text helps construct understandings of the world that builds social realities (e.g., social relations, class categories, gender fractions, and racial groupings), state formations (e.g., economic programs, fiscal policies, and government redistributive schemes), and material realities (e.g., landscapes, cities, neighborhoods, and nations). Text here is a profoundly relational element. Text always needs to be understood against the realities of societal organization, prevailing class dynamics, and the imperatives of capital accumulation. Neo-Foucaultian accounts of the power and prowess of text examine how these formations manage and discipline populations in sanctioning the claims and practices of people and institutions. Texts here are systems of possibility for knowledge, that is, fields of knowledge formulated via sets of discursive rules. Through these subjectively constituted fields, 'regimes of truth' are always specific to them. Systems of possibility for suggesting and labeling truth and falsity - carried in the text's behind-the-back rules for producing 'logical' assertions - make these entities potent sources of power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of Human Geography
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages3
ISBN (Electronic)9780080449104
ISBN (Print)9780080449111
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009


  • Discourse
  • Discursive formations
  • Marxism
  • Metaphor
  • Metonymy
  • Narratives
  • Post-modernism
  • Rhetorical tropes
  • Text
  • Textual analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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