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General Systems Theory and Geography

Michael Chisholm
Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers
No. 42 (Dec., 1967), pp. 45-52
DOI: 10.2307/621371
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/621371
Page Count: 8
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Abstract

General systems theory originated in the United States and has been introduced into British geographical writing only in the present decade. The theory is developed from the concept of a system, in an attempt to discover and analyse properties that may be general to many systems. It is therefore part of a general move towards the breaking down of the boundaries between subjects. However, the present writer contends that advocates of general systems theory make extravagant claims; and that upon closer analysis the so-called theory provides little more than a useful habit of thought whereby ideas and hypotheses may be generated. In the concluding section, the application of general systems theory to geomorphology is examined and it is shown that, as in the general argument, the theory adds little to geographical research and knowledge.

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