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adaptations to time a nd place.
(Thilnen 1966: 200)
Thilnen's model was n ot principally a bout explaining
change o r 'progress' yet, like Adam Smith, whose w ork
T hilnen admired, he was concerned w ith progress in
terms o f t he 'growth o f n ational prosperity' (1966: 201)
a nd was quite aware o f how farmers i n a nyone place were
affected by actions taken a nd decisions some distance from
Thilnen lived d uring a p eriod o f e normous c hange i n
t he geography o f agriculture a nd the decades after his death
saw even more spectacular shifts as E uropean farmers were
increasingly caught up in wider circuits o f trade. The trade
i n a gricultural produce, m ost n otably grain, between
countries in Europe was gradually freed-up i n t he late
nineteenth century as p rotectionist policies, such as G reat
Britain's C orn Laws which forbade the i mportation o f
wheat, were repealed a nd G erman farmers, a mong others,
suddenly h ad a n a dditional market for their wheat. Even
m ore d ramatic w ere t he scalar shifts b rought o n b y
European imperialism in the later p art o f the nineteenth
century. As they built u p a nd c onsolidated their rival
empires, E uropean c ountries r econfigured d omestic
agricultural p roduction as crops (especially grains) were
increasingly sourced from colonies a nd f ormer colonies
such as those in N orth America. Thilnen's theory allowed
for such shifts, a nd h e even n oted t hat t he rings c ould be
observed emerging at a n i nternational scale i n s ome
sectors; wool sheep farming was one example. However,
it was n ot u ntil m uch later t hat geographers m ade m ore explicit reference to the Thilnen type rings emerging at
t he w orld scale w ith the globalization o f c ommercial
agriculture. The populated centers o f northwestern Europe
appeared to some, such as P eter Hall, to constitute a
' World T hilnen T own' w hich s ourced its agricultural
products from all over the world (Hall 1966: xlii).
Thilnen's contributions to understanding agricultural
l and use patterns have proven foundational. His insights
were developed a nd refined by later analysts concerned
w ith u nderstanding the changing geography o f farming.
B ut as we n oted earlier, Thilnen's analysis is a bout m uch
m ore t han t he rational selection o f crops a nd f arming
methods. Rather, his broader concern is w ith t he rational
allocation o f l and use. As e conomies have become m ore
varied a nd complex his insights have been a dopted a nd
a pplied beyond agriculture.
Building o n T hilnen's work, particularly as i t h ad b een
picked up by economist Alfred Marshall in his 1890 b ook
Principles o fEconomics, scholars from R. M . H urd i n the
first years o f t he t wentieth c entury ( Hurd 1 905) to
William Alonso a nd o thers i n t he 1960s (for example,
Alonso 1964) p roduced s ophisticated understandings o f
the spatial differentiation o fland use in cities. A key idea
t hat c an be traced back to Thilnen is t hat o f t he bid r ent
o r b id price curve t hat c onnects l and price to l and use a nd
has been applied to commercial, industrial a nd residential
sectors in capitalist cities. Alonso, for example, postulated
t hat i n a city different economic actors (such as i ndividual
firms o r residents) will experience different bid rent curves
for different land uses (factories, offices, homes). Some bid
r ent curves such as for prestigious office o r retail space are
steep, falling away rapidly from a central point, while
others are shallower, such as for housing. J ust as i n t he
Thilnen original these curves intersect such t hat u rban
land use will tend to differentiate according to distance
from t he city center. J ust as a c oncentric ring pattern
o f different l and uses emerged i n T hilnen's model, the
same pattern appeared in early models o f u rban land
use (Figure 2.3).
Thus, T hilnen's m odel, while originally developed
for examining agricultural land use i n early nineteenth
century G ermany c ontained a n umber o f f oundational
insights t hat have influenced n ot j ust o ur u nderstanding
o f t he geographies o f agriculture b ut o f l and use m ore
broadly. 19 20 TRADITIONAL LOCATION THEORY TRADITIONAL ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHIES -:::
(0 ex: o D istance J '1! f:! CO~~ \ ~ 0. .....
" ~....q" ~<i:> .....
" 111 ~e '" " "
~ 0. 2.3 Urban land use
Source: based on Garner 1967: 340. A LFRED WEBER Alfred Weber's 90-year life more or less s panned the last
h alf o f t he nineteenth and first half o f t he twentieth
century ( 1868-1958). W eber was a professor at the
Universiry o f Heidelberg, Germany, although he was fired
in 1933 for opposing aspects o f Nazi ideology. H e was
reinstated in 1945 with the e nd o f hostilities in
I n the years between the writings o f'Ihiinen a nd Weber, Germany and much o f Europe had changed dramatically.
The Weber family his brother Max was the famous
a time when whole districts were
transformed into centers o f m...
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- Winter '14