A Critical and Extensive Review of the Historical Rise and the Contemporary Resurgence of Interest in Positivism in Geography
Journal of Geography, Environment and Earth Science International,
The positivist methods of explaining geographical phenomena enjoyed prominence and revolutionized the methods of geographical research up to the 1950s where the criticisms were largely that the methods cannot account for any role in human geography and the subsequent rise of humanism as an alternative mode of explanation. These critiques and the introduction of many concepts in humanism inadvertently slowed down the progress in seeking for acceptable scientific methods to explain human experiences in geographical research. These criticisms in the 1980s and 90s reduced the popularity and application of the quantitative methodologies which were powerful research techniques in human geography. Geography by its nature is a dual discipline with one half on physical and the other on human geography. Human geographers have used quantitative methodologies to study a multitude of topics including demographics, migration, housing and settlement patterns and ethnic segregation. Human activities like migration, journey to work, retail capital patronage, have adopted some element of scientific laws and models have been focused on transportation, migration, settlement development, innovation diffusion, population growth and distribution, urban land use etc. The shortcomings of the philosophy of humanism have not provided a good alternative in explaining geographical phenomenon and has over time become the gains of the positivist school of thought. The resurgence in the interest in positivism as a tool for explanation of geographical phenomena bores down from the fact that the humanistic methods is laced with subjectivity, the language of discourse is abstract and difficult to comprehend while the logical sequence of the positivist methods make the approach real and achievable.
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