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People and Places: A 2001 Census atlas of the UK

People and Places - A 2001 Census atlas of the UK, Daniel Dorling and Bethan Thomas, 2004The results of the 2001 Census dribbled slowly out into the public arena, mostly filtered through statisticians and academics, but two Sheffield geographers, Daniel Dorling and Bethan Thomas have put a readable picture of the UK into the hands of anyone who wants it.

The technical fix that makes People and Places so compelling is the use of mapping to show social trends by area, and their elegant – and ultimately hand-drawn – cartographic representations of the country’s human geography.

The atlas is a compendium of facts that will have anyone interested in policy flipping through, manically, as well as wagging their fingers at their friends demanding "... did you know?" From the precipitate rise of single living in London, Nottingham and Glasgow, to the nation’s unshakeable addiction to commuting by car, it is all here. Did you know... ‘the only form of transport to work to have fallen in popularity along with the bus is the bicycle’. (p 166)

The publication of People and Places aggravated some provincial Mayors, and you can see why. Dorling and Thomas summarise their atlas with a striking essay on the one trend that underlies all the others:

‘At the start of the 21st Century, the human geography of the UK can most simply be summarised as a tale of one metropolis and its provincial hinterland… On each side of the divide there is a great city structure with a central dense urban core, suburbs, parks and a rural fringe. However, to the south these areas are converging as a great metropolis, while to the north is a provincial archipelago of city islands.’ (p 183)

A metropolis centred on London and the South East, and its provincial hinterland of an archipelago of city islands

Dorling and Thomas have enough scepticism about the urban renaissance down South to gently mock: ‘... the metropolis is more cosmopolitan, trendy and liberal, despite as a whole tending to vote conservative’. (p 185)

This apparent reassertion of the fabled North-South divide of Disraeli and Thatcher wounded the Northern burghers. Not so, they insisted. The North is resurgent. Look at our new arts centres, they said. It is true that the Dorling and Thomas shading tends to emphasise relative differences, like wealth and health, whereas the Northerners could reasonably say that the rising tide lifts all ships. Even theirs.

But even though the image of the impoverished north is a little dated, the picture of the dynamic south draining northern cities is compelling.

The Policy Press have put a readable picture of the UK into the hands of anyone who wants it.

James Heartfield 27.09.2004

People and Places: A 2001 Census atlas of the UK

Daniel Dorling and Bethan Thomas, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, published June 2004

Paperback ISBN 1 86134 555 0, £29.99

Hardback ISBN 1 86134 586 0, £59.99

click here for The Policy Press

People and Places is an accessible guide to social change in the UK at the start of the millennium.

It is the first comprehensive analysis of the 2001 Census, and offers unique comparisons with the findings of the previous Census a decade ago. Key features include:

It is the first comprehensive analysis of the 2001 Census, and offers unique comparisons with the findings of the previous Census a decade ago. Key features include:

  • an illuminating graphic summary of over 100,000 key demographic statistics
  • new cartographic projections and techniques used throughout
  • appendix incorporating rankings for 12 variables by local authority
  • comparison with the 1991 census to identify national and local trends
  • up-to-date analysis and discussion of the implications of current trends for future policy

Over 500 full-colour maps covering 125 topics clearly illustrate the state of UK society today and how it is changing. The trends are explained and elaborated upon in the accompanying text. Using population maps in addition to conventional maps, the atlas covers all the major census topics at local authority level. Topics include:

  • changing generations - how different age groups are moving away from each other geographically
  • changing identities - gender, age and ethnic characteristics
  • changing ways of living - household composition, health and illness, transport and amenities by geographical location
  • changing ways of working - patterns of work, unemployment, industry and occupation

This authoritative atlas is essential reading for those interested in the current social geography of the UK, how it has changed and how it appears to be changing, including for planners in local authorities, health authorities and a wide range of statutory and voluntary organisations. Contents:

  • Introduction and overview
  • Age and sex
  • Religion and ethnicity
  • Birthplace and migration
  • Qualifications and employment
  • Occupation and industry
  • Families and households
  • Homes and cars
  • Conclusion

It is equally an invaluable resource for politicians, policy makers, journalists, students and academics interested in human geography and contemporary patterns of social change.

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