The Paradigm Transformation of Geography from the Perspective of Complexity Sciences

  • College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China

Received date: 2010-01-09

  Revised date: 2010-08-10

  Online published: 2010-11-20

Supported by

Innovation Method Fund of China from the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, No.2007FY140800-1]


Geographic System is fundamentally a complex system with properties (e.g. emergence, nonlinearity, feedbacks, self organization, path dependence, adaptation, and multiple scales) that cannot be explained through understanding the components parts individually. Complexity sciences, rising in the 1980s, has brought a new perspective for the paradigm transformation of geography. This paper briefly reviews the development of complexity sciences and the changing paradigm of geography. Then the performance, characteristics, and causes of complexity in geographic system are explained and analyzed thoroughly. Paradigms, including ontology, epistemology and methodology between classical geography and geography from the perspective of complexity sciences are compared. Six methods (i.e. soft computing, simulating, scaling, Geographic Information System, metaphor and meta-synthetic method) are summarized for the study of complexity in geographic system. In the end, the authors conclude that the paradigm transformation of geography from the perspective of complexity sciences lies in the formation of a new and innovative thinking, which is considered a beyond reductionism, holistic and pattern/process based generalized evolutionary thinking.

Cite this article

LI Shuangcheng, WANG Yang, CAI Yunlong . The Paradigm Transformation of Geography from the Perspective of Complexity Sciences[J]. Acta Geographica Sinica, 2010 , 65(11) : 1315 -1324 . DOI: 10.11821/xb201011001


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