Scale Issues in Social and Natural Sciences, Marceau (1999)

Marceau (1999) describes the significance of and solutions to the issue of scale as it relates to social and natural sciences. The articulation of fundamental principles was helpful in demonstrating the importance of scale as a central question in GIS. It’s clear that the question is particularly important now as we continue to develop a more nuanced appreciation for how observed trends might vary across different scales of analysis.

The discussion of domain of scale and scale threshold stood out to me. I can imagine how differences in the patterns observed between scales would be helpful for organization and analysis. I’m curious about how these observed thresholds would manifest in reality. Are they distinct? Vagueness in our conceptualization of geographic features and phenomena seems to be so prevalent throughout the built and natural environment. I would think that these concepts would somehow shape our analysis of scale in some way that would favour vagueness in the spatial scale continuum. Still, it’s conceivable that sharp transitions could be revealed through the process of scaling unrelated to any vague spatial concepts. An example might’ve made the existence of scale thresholds more obvious to me.

It was an interesting point that an understanding of the implications of the Modifiable Areal Unit Problem took notably longer to develop in the natural science community–perhaps because GIScience as we it now was only in it’s infancy? In any case, it’s another reminder of how significantly spatial concepts can differ between geographies.

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