PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2015, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (7): 800-808.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2015.07.002

• Socio-cultural Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

A review of social atlas research

Yungang LIU, Haiyu SU   

  1. School of Geography Sciences and Planning, Guangdong Key Laboratory for Urbanization and Geo-simulation, SUN Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
  • Received:2014-10-01 Revised:2015-04-01 Online:2015-07-10 Published:2015-07-10


Studying urban social space by means of maps has a long history and diverse patterns of research have developed in different contexts. In recent years, along with the rapid development of GIS technology and Big Data, social data are becoming increasingly diversified and accurate, which offers the possibility for re-recognizing social spaces. This article examines the research of social atlas in China and abroad since the 1900s with regard to cartographic organization and methods and data, aiming for providing some guidance for future studies of social atlas in China. The map-based social research and applications evolved from the initial purpose of comprehensive description to thematic interpretation, and theoretical verification. With regard to cartographic method, the four main types are cartogram map, grid map, dot map, and density map. This article illustrates the effectiveness of social atlas study and reviews its applications in China. It stresses that social atlas, as an efficient method to present sociospatial relations, is able to describe the complicated spatial features of social elements, which is significant for understanding the social reality of a city under transition. However, research of social atlas in China is still in need of further development and greater attentions should be paid to such study in the future.

Key words: social space, social areas analysis, social elements, social data, social atlas