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Investigating whether there is a relationship between size of settlement and its functional index and sphere of influence.

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Introduction

Investigating whether there is a relationship between size of settlement and its functional index and sphere of influence. Aim and hypotheses: My aim is to test the following relationships: -The larger the population of a settlement, the higher the functional index will be. -The greater the functional index, the larger the sphere of influence will be. -People travel further for higher order goods and services, and do not travel as far for lower order goods and services. Hypothesis: I predict that if a settlement has a higher population, the functional index of that settlement will be higher. I think this because the Central Place Theory states that if a settlement is larger, it can support a higher level of services. Taking this into account, I have made a second prediction, which is that the higher the functional index, the larger the sphere of influence will be. This is because I think that people will travel further for higher order goods and services. A place with a high functional index (for example Reading), selling middle and high order goods such as clothing, jewellery and electronics will attract more people than a settlement selling middle and low order goods such as food. I also predict that the higher the population of a settlement, the larger the sphere of influence will be. Once again, taking into account that the Central Place Theory states that the larger the population of a settlement, the higher level of services it can support and the larger the sphere of influence will be. I think that this is because a settlement with a higher population is able to support higher order services, which people travel further for, thus creating a larger sphere of influence. ...read more.

Middle

compared to its relatively small population of 8,000. Twyford had a larger functional index than I expected, as its population is relatively I took the functional index of each settlement. I took the functional index of each place by recording which shops and services were in each of the settlements. Larger settlements had much larger functional indexes than the smaller settlements. For example, Charvil is a very small settlement (with a population size of 2442). Its functional index is only 7. Reading is a much larger settlement with a population of over 143,000. The functional index of Reading is 585, which is much higher than that of Charvil. These results support my hypothesis. The larger settlements can support a higher number of shops and services. Also, because I have ranked the shops and services so that higher order shops and services have a higher score, the functional indexes show that Reading, as it is a larger settlement, can support higher order goods and services. These results show that my hypothesis is correct, and that higher populations can support a larger number of higher order goods and services. The table below shows which settlements have higher, lower, and middle order goods. This explains why some of the towns with smaller populations have higher functional indexes. Settlement Low Order Middle Order High Order Reading 79 194 34 Maidenhead 43 110 30 Newbury 61 111 27 Wokingham 53 99 29 Earley 26 31 10 Woodley 30 53 22 Caversham 45 46 10 Henley 51 123 34 Winnersh 9 5 1 Twyford 26 30 20 Wargrave 14 12 4 Charvil 9 2 0 Shiplake 3 1 0 Marlow 30 96 30 Sonning 7 7 0 The table shows that generally in the larger settlements like Reading and Newbury there are more middle order shops and services than lower and higher. ...read more.

Conclusion

A lot of settlements will also have shops outside the main shopping centre. I would not have counted these shops and services in my functional index. Another thing which could have affected my results is that conditions such as the weather could have affected my survey. Less people are likely to be out in my chosen settlements if it was raining, for example. Also, my population sizes are not very accurate, as the values which I have are probably out of date, although they are from a reliable source. To improve the accuracy of my results I could do a survey of which shops and services are situated outside the main town centre of the settlement or I could make sure I have seen the whole of the settlement and recorded each shop or service in the area, although this would be difficult due to time limitations. It is also difficult to take questionnaires at exactly the same time on the same day each week, and it is impossible to take each questionnaire in exactly the same conditions as the other. I cannot improve the accuracy of the population values as they are estimates taken from other sources, and I cannot calculate the population size of each settlement myself. Also, population estimates become unreliable and inaccurate quite quickly. I think that I would need to take more than 25 questionnaires in each settlement and use more than 15 settlements in this investigation to properly prove my hypotheses accurately. To extend my research I would need to research the accessibility of each settlement. I would also take a bi-polar analysis of each place. Due to time limitations I could not extend my research, although I am quite pleased with my results, as my Spearman's Rank Correlation Coefficient showed that the correlation between the population size and the functional index was 99.9% likely to not have occurred by chance. ...read more.

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