Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 76 ›› Issue (10): 2333-2342.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202110001

• Theoretical and Methodological Exploration •     Next Articles

Paradigm transformation in the study of man-land relations: From local thinking to global network thinking modes

TAN Minghong1,2(), LI Xiubin1,2()   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2020-07-27 Revised:2021-04-19 Online:2021-10-25 Published:2021-12-25
  • Contact: LI Xiubin;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41771116);National Key Research and Development Program of China(2016YFC0502103)


The early studies on the relationships between man and land in geography mostly focused on local regions and held the idea that "the land and water resources in a region feed the person in the region". In the traditional agricultural society, which relies heavily on natural resources, the idea, and regional geographic research and management practice under its guidance play a positive role in promoting the development between man and nature, and sustainable resource use. With the continuous increase in openness of man and land system resulted from development of science and technology and transport improvement, regional systems on different scales and at different economic development levels have formed an interdependent and coupled geographic network. Every region becomes a node in this network, and the formation and solution of regional problems are closely related to other nodes in the network, and are related to internal and external factors of the regional system. In some cases, external factors even play a more important role. The introduction of some concepts and methods marks the paradigm transformation of man-land relationship research from local thinking paradigm to global networked thinking paradigm, such as virtual water, ecological footprint, carbon emissions due to goods trade, resource link and tele-coupling of man-land relationship. This study discusses the paradigm transformation from three aspects: the evolution characteristics of man-land system, the changes of thinking paradigm and study methods in man-land relationships, and the realization paths and practical significances of the transformation of thinking paradigm in man-land relationship research. According to new ideas and thinking paradigms, traditional local thinking modes and related research themes such as regional carrying capacity can not fully express the new characteristics of man-land relationships. At present, studies related to regional carrying capacity have become an important issue in land use planning and urban planning in China. In the development of land use planning at different levels, "evaluation of resource and environmental carrying capacity" has become the premise and basis of planning. In the implementation of this concept, we usually simply uses population size as the control index. In the context of an increasingly open system, studies in the carrying capacity of resources and environment may be re-examined. This is especially necessary in smaller scale regional systems (e.g., at a county level).

Key words: man-land relationship, research paradigm, local thinking paradigm, geographic network thinking paradigm