On the nature of explanation in human geography.

R. J. Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Several of the approaches espoused by human geographers in recent decades have been criticized for their inability to explain the patterns and processes that they describe, and that they describe, and especially for their inability to explain change in those patterns and processes. A review of the criticisms indicates their validity. The alternative path to explanation that has been proposed appears to be a geographical, however, in that its focus on macro-processes and its emphasis on the unique characteristics of time and place result in little attention being paid to realizations of processes, to actual spatial patterns. It is argued that for human geographers to use the alternative approaches, theory must be developed which allows for exploration of particular realizations within the structural constraints; the study of geography and the state is used as an example. -Author

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-412
Number of pages11
JournalTransactions, Institute of British Geographers
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1980


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