Publication
Title
Nature's order? Questioning causality in the modelling of transport networks
Author
Abstract
Numerous social science studies found inspiration in the natural sciences to explain historical events and processes. Similarly, geography has a long history of scholarly work crossing boundaries between the natural and social sciences. A good example of such nature-society transfers is offered by the literature that models the spatial growth of infrastructure networks, ranging from the application of fractals, Newtons law of gravitation, and Shiatsu meridians, to laboratory experiments with slime mould in Petri dishes. This article focuses on how transfers between the social and natural sciences influence conceptualisations of causality, with the working hypothesis that economic thought has a key role in explaining the continued attraction. To reveal the particular ways in which researchers explain network development and try to uncover the underlying rationality and causality, two different approaches were applied to the same case, the development of Belgiums motorway network. The first approach is based on a quantitative topological gravity-style model, while the second offers a historical account. The confrontation of both approaches confirms that the risk of naturalising history lies in the downplaying of the role of agency and political choices. But what makes this study especially relevant is that it shows how evolutions in economic thought shape the use of natural metaphors in novel ways, reinterpreting history using recent conceptualisations of demand, decentral planning, and the market/politics divide.
Language
English
Source (journal)
Geoforum. - London
Publication
London : 2018
ISSN
0016-7185
Volume/pages
97(2018), p. 324-334
ISI
000454467800030
Full text (Publisher's DOI)
Full text (open access)
Full text (publisher's version - intranet only)
UAntwerpen
Faculty/Department
Research group
Project info
Outside-City: the 'suburban character' as accomplishment of place distinction (case: Antwerp, c.1860-c.1940).
Publication type
Subject
Affiliation
Publications with a UAntwerp address
External links
Web of Science
Record
Identification
Creation 04.10.2018
Last edited 29.08.2021
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