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Unformatted text preview: English in 1954 a nd was, like t he o ther theoretical works examined in this
chapter, highly influential in economic geography i n the
English speaking world.
I n the preface t o t he first edition, Losch 'proposes t o
view all economic activities geographically' (1954: xiii).
Like m any h e was interested n ot o nly in explaining
contemporary patterns o f location, bur in advocating a
normative view o f w hat t he world s hould l ook like. H e
wished to be able to determine the 'best location' a nd thus
improve w hat h e called ' our sorry reality' (1954:
Losch h oped e conomic geographers would be able to
'create' rather t han s imply 'describe,' although he was
skeptical o f rigid planning systems, valuing the results o f
individual rational decisions made freely (1954: 508).
Losch's m ethod was to construct a model from the
starting p oint o f individual decision makers. ] hus, for
Losch, optimal industrial location is a m atter o f individual
enterprises selecting the 'right' location which, for I,osch,
means the location 'where the n et profit is greatest' (1954:
27). N et p rofit results from the interplay o f a great many
factors, a nd Losch critiqued Thiinen a nd W eber for their
one-sided models, working instead toward a compre
hensive analysis o f l ocation. Losch's b ook takes o n
' economic regions' a nd ' trade' in addition to location. H is
c ontributions o n regions begin w ith establishing t he
hexagon as an appropriate model o f a m arket area.
Losch's regional urban hierarchy is specified differently
from that o f Christaller. For Christaller, a higher order place
would offer all the goods o f t he central places below it in
t he h ierarchy plus additional higher o rder goods.
Furthermore, each center o f t he same order would offer
precisely the same mix o f goods a nd services. LOsch argued
that the K = 3, K = 4 a nd K 7 arrangements identified
by Christaller were b ut three o f a vast range o f possible
market area arrangements. I n fact Losch identified 150
different structures. Furthermore, combining the different
market structures, each made up o f a network o f hexagons,
produces a landscape in which certain sectors o f t he
landscape are characterized by many higher order centers
while other sectors are characterized by relatively few. Losch
identified these sectors as 'city-rich' a nd 'city-poor' sectors
respectively, although it is the number o f activities o r goods
produced ~hich varies between t hem r ather t han t he
actual number o f central places (Figure 2.12). O n this basis
Losch's model allows for the fact that places at the same 31 TRADITIONAL LOCATION THEORY ~ ." QJ I .. +-' +-' QJ C QJ u C QJ I Y -..I
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.2! ~ QJ Even before Central Places i n Southern Germany was
translated into English i n 1966, n umerous economic
geographers were testing central place theory in a variety
o f places, including the US a nd notably in the flat landscape
o f southwestern Iowa, b ut also in Asia - including northern
India a nd s outhern Sri Lanka, a mong others as well as
in Australia a nd N ew Zealand, Mrica a nd Europe.
As i n t he case o f t he rank size rule, the predicted
perfectly ordered landscape o f theory was never realized in
t he 'real w orld' a nd, in t he l anguage o f s ubsequent
modeling, real places always
the predicted o r idealized patterns a nd m uch energy was
expended trying to account for the deviations in order t o
further refine the models. T he language o f deviation also
alerts us t o t he more normative quality o f these models.
Are linear rank size distributions o f cities a nd regular a nd
orderly hierarchical landscapes o f cities and towns a nd their
hinterlands more 'ideal' t han the so-called deviations? Is
it better o r more proper t o have economic spaces organized
in these regular a nd orderly ways? S hould urban a nd
regional planning strive to counteract tendencies towards
deviation from such order by enacting policies designed to
economic landscapes more perfectly along the lines
o f t hese models? I n m any c ountries, t he p attern o f
urbanization has been such that an urban hierarchy based
o n a p rimate city has emerged, w ith o ne d ominant
metropolis a nd very few medium sized cities a nd towns.
Urban primacy, especially in poorer countries, has
been viewed as s omehow undesirable o r sub-optimal, for
b oth e conomic a nd p olitical reasons, a nd t he m any
attempts to plan for the development o f so-called secondary
cities in developing countries can be understood in this
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- Winter '14