Geographia Polonica (2016) vol. 89, iss. 4

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Revisiting the question of centripetal and centrifugal forces in urban systems

Robert Krzysztofik

Geographia Polonica (2016) vol. 89, iss. 4, pp. 429-442


The concept of centripetal and centrifugal forces was formally applied to the geographical sciences by Charles C. Colby in the 1930s; and for decades, these terms have been key elements used in explaining the development of cities and regions. Given that geographical research treats these concepts as represented by scientific metaphors, the work described in this article has sought to look critically at relevant issues from the physical point of view, i.e. in terms of Newtonian mechanics. Although the use of these metaphors is not always found to reflect the reality characterising the observed elements in the socio-economic system of a city and its surroundings,these may serve as an important element of explanations of ‘classical’ geography, new economic geography and Batty’s concept of the “new science of cities”, providing that certain objections are taken account of.

Keywords: city-forming forces, centripetal forces, centrifugal forces, urban system, ontological approach

Robert Krzysztofik, Departament of Economic Geography University of Silesia Będzińska 60, 41-200 Sosnowiec: Poland