Quantitative Revolution developed in the 1940s and 1950s after the world war.
Schaefer- Spatial 🌌 Science
Schaefer is said to have started the trend of Quantification based generalization. It is a paradigm phase of geography. Geography was sought to be developed as a spatial science. In this phase, geographers were encouraged to quantify, using statistical techniques, and to make use of objective laws on phenomena on earth's surface.
Physical geography as an extension of Natural Science
The paradigm change in quantification and developing generalizations and laws in geography was actually relevant in human geography. This is because physical geography is largely seen as an extension of natural sciences and there was already a long tradition in making laws on the physical world.
For developing objectivity, normative assumptions were encouraged.
Hence to seek objectivity and to simplify human aspects for quantification and generalizations, geographers in the phase of the quantitative revolution were encouraged to use simplifying, ideal normative assumptions of
- Man is economic
- Man is rational
- A man operates on an isotropic surface in perfect competition
This assumption trend was inspired by Von Thunen, Weber, and Christaller's locational theories. It was this trend which became the criticism.
The normative assumptions and the backlash
The normative assumptions that simplified the real-life conditions became the basis of criticism and backlash against geography in the behavioral and in the humanistic revolt.
Contributions of Quantitative Revolution
- It encouraged objectivity in geography and geography bacame more possitivist.
- The paradigm actually had scientific appeal.
- Model making became a trend. Laws and models were used to predict the outcomes and therefore geography became an important tool for geographers.
- It encouraged the systems approach in geography. The systems approach helps us to identify the interacting components in a process to appreciate the inter dependence of the components and therefore to make more accurate and predictive models.
- Systems approach and the use of Statistical methods was encouraged in geography mainly by BJL Berry and Richard Shorley. Geography also used principles, methods, and laws of physics to amke model in geography.
- Eg. The breaking point theory of Q Stewart and Reilly were based on Newtons gravitational law. This trend was called Social Physics.
Locational Analysis is a technique of sudy using which laws and models can be developed. It is not same as the locational theories of Von Thunen, Weber etc.
Locational analysis is based on
- Principles of geography where the reality is depicted through geometric elements like lines, dots, geometrical shapes, networks and arrows
- Principle of system approaach that links phenomenon and elements using lines and arrows. Asa technique ans a method of study it was suggested by Peter Haggot in his book Locational Analysis in Human Geography, 1965
Criticism of quantitative revolution
The objective of QR was to develop geography as an objective science with generalizations and laws much like natural science but according to Burton and Dudley stamp 🖃, quantification was actually a regressive phase because reasons for quantification and the techniques in quantification were flawed.
Burton and Dudley stamps 🖃 arguments were.
- the normative assumptions did not depict reality so the objectivity was superficial
- the normative assumptions of Man as economic and rational were a negative mechanical view of man and man was not seen as a thinking being.
Since the generalizations were based on impractical Assumptions, the predictive value of generalizations was limited. The laws could not be used for practical planning. In the QR phase, statistical methods where an obsession and the purpose of geography to study man and environment relation was lost.
Burton believed that most quantifiers who promoted quantification and law-making did so because of their inferiority complex to match geography with other natural sciences. Therefore quantification was more of a fad and not so much because it was the necessity for objective study.
Backlash against Quantitative Revolution
- Behavioral Geography - Cognitive processes underlying spatial reasoning, decision making, and human behavior.
- Humanistic Geography - Verstehen and hermeneutics. Idealism, phenomenology, and existentialism.
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