Geography of Social Services

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Geography of Social Services


the study of the location and territorial organization of various types of cultural and social services needed to maintain the process of social reproduction. The subject of the geography of social services brings it very close to population geography.

The geography of social services usually includes types of nonmaterial activity (public health, education and training, spectator activities, cultural-educational institutions, communications services, and so on). In its broader sense the geography of social services also includes several types of material activity related to personal needs (retail trade, public catering, the sectors of housing-utility administration, and passenger transportation, especially urban transportation). Sometimes the geography of social services also includes the geography of resorts and tourism (for some countries and regions they singled out as economic sectors). The simplest indexes of the degree of service are the number of persons employed in different types of service (for example, per 1,000 total residents or residents of a certain age, group, and so on).

One of the basic tasks of the geography of social services is disclosing geographic differences in service levels depending on economic and natural conditions in the country, region, or city. Some types of service are located proportionally to the geographical distribution of population (for instance, the school network and retail trade). However, other types of service are organized in consideration of specific territorial factors; without these considerations, some areas such as large and sparsely populated territories would be left without any medical institutions or communications services at all.

As a special sector of economic geography, the geography of social services is becoming more and more important. Especially timely is the practical role of the geography of social services in the socialist countries in planning networks of service establishments and institutions and ensuring employment for the population in particular regions.


Kovalev, S. A., and V. V. Pokshishevskii. “Geografiia naseleniia i geografiia obsluzhivaniia.” In Nauchnye problemy geografii naseleniia. Moscow, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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