Articles | Volume 72, issue 2
Geogr. Helv., 72, 171–181, 2017

Special issue: Raum, Gesetze, Daten: Beiträge zu einer Wissenschaftsgeschichte...

Geogr. Helv., 72, 171–181, 2017

Standard article 25 Apr 2017

Standard article | 25 Apr 2017

Der raumwirtschaftliche Ansatz: der Aufstieg einer steuerungsorientierten, normativ geprägten Expertenkultur

Christoph Scheuplein Christoph Scheuplein
  • Westfälische Hochschule, Institut Arbeit und Technik, Munscheidstraße 14, 45886 Gelsenkirchen, Germany

Abstract. In today's corpus of economic geography textbooks published in the German-speaking countries, the spatial science approach is described as involving a neoclassical view of economics, a chorological explanatory strategy, (neo)positivist roots, and a focus on developments that have occurred since 1969. This approach has received sweeping criticism for its undersocialization, its spatial fetishism, and its exclusively quantitative methodology. The article proposes to abandon the dominant historiography of science, which focuses on national economies and takes a positivist perspective, in favor of a form of contextualization that has its roots in the sociology of knowledge.

The article examines relevant publications in journals and textbooks to show that what has been known as the quantitative revolution did not become widely accepted among German-speaking researchers until the late 1970s, long after it originally began to emerge. This process was characterized by a shift toward a consultative perspective that researchers adopted in hopes of becoming involved in the spatial planning initiatives of the state. In the resulting usage context of the Keynesian interventionist state, a culture of economic geography experts developed that discussed methods and concepts in an innovative and pluralist manner.

Short summary
The spatial economy approach (Raumwirtschaftlicher Ansatz) in the German economic geography is usually characterized as neoclassical, chorological and neo-positivist. Based on a literature review and a contextualization from the perspective of the sociology of knowledge, the article shows that this approach was pluralistic and informed spatial planning processes, and that in the late 1970s, it became a distinct branch of economic geography in the literature of the German-speaking regions.