9 junio, 2024

Geographical methodology: what it is, definition, principles

What is the geographic methodology?

The geographic methodology It is a way of studying, analyzing and relating geographic phenomena to each other. Geography studies everything related to the causes and consequences of different geographical problems in the world, or a particular area.

This branch of science has as its main theory that all geographical phenomena and problems are closely related to each other.

Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) and Carl Ritter (1779-1859) are considered the fathers of geography, and they were the first scholars to apply this type of investigative method.

Principles of geographic methodology

Principle of location and distribution

The first thing that must exist when carrying out an investigation with the geographical methodology is to apply the principle of location and distribution, which is based on the orientation of the geographical facts and their spatial analysis.

For this principle, the main geographical instrument is the map, constituting an excellent tool for any type of geographical study.

It is the main thing that has to be done, since any scientific analysis will arise from there. In fact, without location there can be no geographic study.

Principle of universalization, comparison or generalization

This principle deals with the search, comparison and description of similar processes that may be happening in any other part of the world, taking as reference the location principle, carried out first.

It is called the principle of General Geography, according to its own creator and founder of modern French geography: P. Vidal de la Blache.

«The application of this principle is very important: the comparison of phenomena in various parts of the earth’s surface allows individualizing, highlighting the personality of certain facts and, above all, generalizing.»

As a practical example, the comparison and analogy of certain landscapes and climates can be made through the Internet, thus understanding what is the dominant temperature in certain regions of the world and knowing the differences between a tropical, polar and a Mediterranean climate. .

Principle of connection or coordination

It is considered the most important principle, originally thought by Ritter and applied in the geographical method by his disciples.

The fundamental statement of geography is the relationship between geographic phenomena, and on this principle the theory is applied.

First, it is essential to understand the content of the object that is being studied. Then, the phenomena should be studied taking into consideration each of their connections with other objects, in addition to their influences.

At the same time, the above principle (connection or coordination) should be applied and each factor taken into consideration. As a result, all the causes and consequences affecting that particular phenomenon should be understood.

Principle of evolution and dynamism

It must be understood that the Earth we live on is constantly evolving and changing, and although current phenomena are studied, it is always necessary to go back a bit to better understand the phenomenon being studied.

This principle has a special importance, since the soils have changed, the cities have diversified, expanded and modernized. This helps to understand how this process of systematic evolution has occurred.

Obviously, the geographer should not become an expert in geology or history, he should simply study the most important facts of his interest and that are consistent with the research to be carried out.

Other methods for the study of geography

Before this social science it is always important to maintain an analytical, synthetic and relational attitude. Any new concept should be compared with previously learned ones, in order to have a broader knowledge.

In this way, the geographer will relate each meaning more quickly, and for example, will understand that when talking about climate, it does not simply imply cold or heat, but pressure, wind, temperature and precipitation.

Furthermore, comparison is the method under which geography arose and this practice should not be abandoned.

Like the map, the atlas is another basic instrument for any researcher of this type. You must perfectly manage the location of each country and, when locating yourself in a phenomenon, the main questions you must ask yourself are where? and why precisely there?


Arias, F. (2004). The research project: Guide for its preparation. Recovered from smo.edu.mx.
Bigman, D. & Fofack, H. (2000). Geographical Targeting for Poverty Alleviation: Methodology and Applications.
Varela, J. (2012). The principles of the geographical method. Recovered from contraclave.es.

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