Geographic Determinism

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Geographic Determinism


a non-Marxist sociological concept that attempts to explain phenomena of social life in terms of the particular characteristics of natural conditions and the geographic position of a country or region.

Exponents of geographic determinism see the geographic environment or its individual elements as the determining force in the development of human society. Marxism-Leninism demonstrated the unsoundness of geographic determinism and defined the true laws of social development and the relationship between human society and the geographic environment.

In its initial phase geographic determinism played a progressive role, although it contained some reactionary ideas in embryonic form—specifically, it accepted the backwardness of peoples living under different climatic conditions and explained slavery and despotism in terms of natural conditions. In the transitional period from feudalism to capitalism geographic determinism reflected the struggle of the rising bourgeois class against feudalism. Later, geographic determinism began to be used in justification of colonial exploitation and wars of conquest. Geographic determinism was made use of especially widely in the period of imperialism, when the pseudoscientific concept of geopolitics was widespread. The positions of geographic determinism in this period were defended by many bourgeois geographers, including E. Huntington (USA) and H. Mackinder (Great Britain). G. V. Plekhanov, exaggerating the role of the geographic environment in the history of Russian development, paid tribute to geographic determinism. A form of geographic determinism is environmentalism, which has become widespread in the USA.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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The author follows Japan from its origin myths up to the present time, adding elements of geographic determinism and cultural anthropology as well as his own experiences.
In its enthusiasm for the deeply erroneous pseudo-discoveries of the 19th century--Benthamite utilitarianism, Comtean positivism, nationalism, socialism, historical materialism, social Darwinism, scientific racism, theorized imperialism, eugenics, geographic determinism, institutionalism, social engineering, progressive regulation, the rule of experts, a cynicism about the force of ethical ideas--much of the clerisy mislaid its earlier commitment to a free and dignified common people.
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Too bad that that inspiration can't be found amid Morris's geographic determinism.
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