What Is Sequent Occupancy?


Sequence occupancy is a geographic term that refers to the impact different cultures have on a geographic location. The term refers to the shift from agrarian to urban culture. It can also apply to the influence of cultures that displace another culture, such as European immigration to North America displacing native populations.

Cultural Landscape

  • Look around your town and note the different influences on the landscape. If you live in a large urban metropolis, you will see different architectural influences in the buildings. The use of the land may have called for different building types, such as one- or two-story buildings in the early 1800s to skyscrapers in the 20th and 21st centuries. If you live in a mountainous area, note that humans cut room for a highway or railway through the rock. The cultural landscape reflects the impact humans have had on the land in shaping it to their purpose.


  • Each culture has specific land-use needs that change as the culture changes. Agrarian societies cut swaths of forest to clear land for farming and animal husbandry. Industrial societies focus on developing the urban landscape to meet the needs of growing populations, including building schools and paving roads. Each stage sequentially forms another layer of cultural influence on the landscape.


  • The layers of cultural influence on a geographic location reflect the remnants of prior cultures in the area. When a new culture displaces a prior culture, as when the Europeans displaced the natives in what is now the United States, the displacing culture does not immediately eradicate all evidence of the displaced culture. Many U.S. states, cities and landmarks retain the native name, such as Ohio and Mississippi. Much of the architecture in New Orleans' French Quarter is Spanish, reminding of the past Spanish occupation.


  • Sequent occupancy does not refer to differentiations that occur as a result of intracultural dynamics that play out over the course of time. For example, it does not refer to the use of one area for the wealthy and another area for the poor. Sequent occupancy would only apply to analyze the movement of both wealthy and poor individuals to the area, such as shift to industrial society, and the impact on the land that resulted.


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