ABSTRACT

Geodemographic analysis continues an extensive history of empirically driven models of urban socio-spatial structure, extending back to the work of human ecologists in the 1920s and 30s and, more recently, the large body of empirically driven work producing social area analysis models (Shevky and Williams 1949; Shevky and Bell 1955) for various urban locations (see Timms 1971: 56). Representations created through such models attempted to reduce the complexities of population and built structure into meaningful and simpli-ed typologies, giving order to multiple attributes about small areas (Abler et al. 1971). Some of the earliest published work on geodemographics was also described as social area analysis (Webber 1975) and focused on single cities (in Webber’s case, Liverpool, UK). It was only later that geodemographic techniques were expanded to create classications with national coverage (Webber 1977; Webber and Craig 1978). Such geodemographic systems were presented by Webber (1978: 275) as a methodological solution for handling the highly dimensional 1971 UK census:

What is needed is a strategy which will pick out a pattern from the detail, without losing too much of the original information, and which will admit more detailed examination of parts of the pattern which become relevant to a particular issue or local area as and when required.