Theorizing with GIS: a tool for critical geographies?

This paper written by Marianna in 2006 did a detailed literature research on qualitive and quantitative research aspects in GIScience, by proposing that placing GIS in quantitative group is misleading and raising up attention on qualitive research in GIS would help develop the foundation of social theory (processes and relationships) with spatial complexity. In the beginning, the author discusses how GISystem technologies be applied in quantitative research where GIS acting as a profound tool for discovering knowledge and patterns in purpose of making profits. However, quantitative research in geography are never independent of qualitive research and there are emerging debates on the role of these two kinds of researches. Furthermore, qualitive research and quantitative researches are now more associated and mixed when dealing with critical geographic issues.

What really interests me is that it is argued that qualitive shows up as a continuum of quantitative, but personally I think qualitive researches may be more fundamental than traditional quantitative research because without the understanding of quality issues about objects that further analysis would base on, quantitative should be nothing reliable. What’s more, it is discussed that qualitive methods are simple and easy but producing vague information which do not contribute much to theory development. Thus, how could qualitive research be widely accepted and gaining more attention and though it is fundamental to qualitive but how to conduct critical qualitive research and is there any universal regulation?

The paper explores deeply about the associations between qualitive and quantitative research in GIS and I am still a little confused of what the “critical geography” means from this paper.

Last, as stated in the paper, gap of quantitative research and qualitive research is being narrowed in the field of human geography, for better interpreting social processes and relationships, but how the mixture of these two kinds of research be applied in the fields of physical geography study? Or does it still matter a lot in physical geography studies?

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