Geographia Polonica (1983) vol. 47
National settlement systems ; comparative topical studies
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The settlement process is enormously complex. A very broad approach to the topic, extending across all the continents through the recorded past, would embrace all of human geography. Even a limited empirical comparison of settlement systems would require several volumes. The discussion to follow is simply a series of hypotheses, drawn from the geographic literature, about the recent development of settlement systems in previ-ously unsettled (virgin) territories. It is arranged into five sections: the definitions which constrain the discussion, the motives for settlement, the spatial imprint of development within the virgin lands, the impact on the source region, and some of the future trends and issues.
, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
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As a theoretical framework this paper makes several assumptions regarding: 1) the historical character of national settlement systems, 2) the historical character of settle-ment systems in general. 3) the historical character of the sedentary life of the human population. Historically there were: 1) unsettled or non sedentary populations, 2) settled populations in which settlements were not organized into systems, and 3) settled po-pulations in which settlements were organized in non national settlement systems.
There is a general recognition that, in the process of the transformation of the settle-ment system, changes in the control of the production of raw materials, intermediate products and unproductive goods have been essential.
In mature underdeveloped countries, the economy has became subjected to the deci-sions of three main organizations: the multi-international corporations, large national oligopolistic groups and the state. However the largest part of national capital is not concentrated in these groups.
The accumulation of capital has become geographically differentiated at levels which, although defined in terms of political economy (that is, as levels of capital accumulation), appear also in the sphere of microeconomics (that is, in terms of the spatial differen-tiation of the demand for goods and services).
The way in which accumulation levels become articulated in the different settlement types (metropolises, specialized urban settlements, central places in which either economic or social and administrative functions are more important, etc.) should be considered in any study of settlement systems. It is equally important to define the flows between the levels as well as between the various components (within each level).
, University of the Andes, Merida, Venezuela
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The purpose of this review paper is essentially empirical: to document and assess re-cent changes in the spatial structure of national urban systems in a comparative inter-national context and to pose a series of questions for subsequent reasearch and theoret-ical analysis. What types and spatial configurations of urban systems are emerging? Does the trend towards a spatially-decentralized urban system represent a short-term perturba-tion in the spatial development of capitalist economic systems or is it a long-term process of adjustment in the settlement pattern of all advanced economies? Does this adjustment process accelerate or decelerate under conditions of slow (or zero) popu-lation growth? What happens to the variance of urban growth rates under such condi-tions? Will the trend be reversed as some observers argue, if and when the current recession ends? What types of modifications to existing concepts, theories and metrics of urban systems appear to be needed? What are the potential implications of these trends for public policy? Finally, has there been a convergence or divergence in the structure of urban systems among industrialized countries — both in market-based and socialist economies — and between those countries and the Third World? These are the kinds of questions addressed in an admittedly preliminary fashion, in this paper.
, Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
, Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization Polish Academy of Sciences ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 30, 00-927 Warszawa, Poland
, Department of Social and Economic Geography, University of Lund, Lund, Sweden
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