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Subjectivity is the claim that perception emerges from a subject's point of view. Subjectivity is usually opposed to objectivity, where knowledge is seen to be independent of the subject who is producing it. In most of geography's history, subjectivity has meant understanding the role of various social locations (such as class, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality) on the construction of the individual's relationship with the world, which shapes their knowledge and understanding of the world. This suggests that there will always be a bias to this perception and the knowledge that emerges from it. Besides having profound epistemological and ontological implications, this has a significant effect on the development of research methodology: The subject's experiences and biography influence their knowledge and understanding of the world. There has been considerable debate around the extent to which the subject is able to act freely or whether actions are constrained by higher powers. More recently, geographers have also considered the effects of less visible or conscious markers of identity such as psychological and emotional characteristics, the influence of bodily knowledge, and the subjectivity of things external to the individual: networks, collectivities, technologies, and nonhuman animals.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of Human Geography (Second Edition)
EditorsAudrey Kobayashi
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)978-0-08-102296-2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Dec 2019


  • Agency
  • Body
  • Decolonial
  • Discourse
  • Epistemology
  • European enlightenment
  • Hermeneutics
  • Methodology
  • Objectivity
  • Performance
  • Situated knowledge
  • Structure
  • Subaltern
  • Subject


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