Geography, Industrial

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Geography, Industrial


the branch of economic geography that studies the factors, regularities, and features of the location and development of industrial production in various countries and regions.

The following major features of industrial production are most significant for industrial geography: (1) the clear and far-ranging segmentation into branches, the number of which is increasing continuously, especially during the modern scientific and technological revolution; (2) the unusual complexity of the relations of production technology and the economy, the result of the many different types of industrial enterprises; (3) the diversity of the forms of social organization of production (combination, specialization, cooperation); (4) the formation of local and regional production and territorial combinations (under socialist conditions this formation is planned and usually takes the form of complexes); and (5) a high degree of production and territorial concentration (of all the types of material production, industry is the least evenly distributed over land territory), geared to the requirements of specific conditions for a given type of production, including product demand, favorable economic and geographic situation, the establishment of an infrastructure (schools, communications, services, and so on), and availability of raw materials, power, and personnel.

Because of the multiplicity of industries and the diverse nature of the production process on one hand and the universal significance of industry on the other, the distribution of industry is determined by a complex interplay of various factors. Among these, socioeconomic factors play a decisive role. Great significance is attached to technology, which mediates the effect of the natural environment and particularly natural resources on the distribution of industry.

The interaction of the factors mentioned is regulated by general economic laws that are distinctly different in different socioeconomic formations. Under socialism, industrial distribution takes place in accord with the law of planned and balanced development of the national economy and is subject to the requirements of economic development in different regions of the country. One of the central tasks of industrial geography in socialist countries is the working out of the theoretical principles of the territorial organization of industrial production (in view of the necessity of establishing prerequisites for the harmonious combination of productive forces) within the framework of individual countries, taking into consideration the ever-expanding international socialist division of labor and, between socialist countries, the integration connected with this division of labor.

In the capitalist world the distribution of industry is associated with the struggle between countries, regions, and monopolies. Here it is particularly important to study the role of economic and extraeconomic factors, especially the militarization of the economy, the struggle of monopolies, different forms of state-monopoly capitalism, and integration. Also requiring particular attention is the mechanism of the effect of various aspects of modern scientific and technological progress on the distribution of industry.

Industrial geography is broken up into general industrial geography, industrial branch geography, and regional industrial geography. General industrial geography includes (1) the theory of location, which studies the general principles and factors of location in a historical context (with particular attention to recent trends); (2) the study of the location of industrial enterprises in terms of their optimal sizes and their typological characteristics and the special features of the economic and geographic situation; and (3) the study of production and territorial combinations (complexes) and energy-producing cycles.

Industrial branch geography studies the principles of location of separate industrial branches, relying particularly on model building and on analysis of the structural and territorial nature of the various branches, in order to reduce the social costs of production. Industrial branch geography brings to light the effect of the technological and economic features of the forms of social organization of production in a given branch of industry on its distribution. It analyzes the relationship of the geography of production, the geography of raw materials and energy sources, and the geography of consumption with regard to the transportation factor and the nature of the territorial division of labor, with the particular purpose of developing a geographical classification of industrial branches. It also studies questions related to industrial branch regionalization and the typology of enterprises. Industrial branch geography is characterized by broad territorial scope (the world as a whole, the worldwide system of capitalism and the worldwide system of socialism taken separately, major regions of the world, countries, major economic regions within the countries); it includes the study of the branches of the extraction and process industries, especially those industrial branches that are of considerable importance for the complex development of the economy, such as power, the iron and steel industry, machine building, and the chemical, timber, and food industries.

Regional industrial geography studies industrial production as a whole in its development and distribution with regard to the totality of the economic and natural conditions within a given territory. The territories studied include (1) economic subregions, concentrations, or important centers; (2) economic regions; and (3) countries or regions of various types and subtypes (for example, the USSR, socialist countries of Europe, highly developed capitalist countries of Europe, the USA, Japan, and the developing countries of Latin America, Africa, and Asia, as well as various groupings of these countries). With regard to these areas, attention is focused on the study of historical and geographic features of industrial formation; the nature of modern industrial branch macrostructure and microstructure on the whole in view of the level of development achieved; position in the international (socialist or capitalist) division of labor; and economic and geographic situation, natural resources, and so on. Regional industrial geography examines the basic patterns of territorial structure, characteristics of industrial regionalization, and types of industrial regions.

In the Soviet Union and in foreign socialist countries, exceptionally great significance is attached to questions related to the rational distribution of industry and other branches of the economy and to the improvement of territorial proportions. In the Directives for the Five-year Plan for the Development of the National Economy of the USSR for the Years 1971-75, particular attention is directed toward the importance of improving territorial proportions in the national economy and toward the further accelerated harnessing of natural resources and the building up of economic potential in the eastern regions of the country (Directives of the XXIV Congress of the CPSU for the Five-year Plan for the Development of the National Economy of the USSR for the Years 1971-1975, 1971, page 53).

In the Soviet Union industrial geography began to be recognized as a separate study in economic geography during the 1920’s. Monographs have been written on the industrial geography of the USSR (P. N. Stepanov, A. D. Breiterman, A. T. Khrushchev) as a whole and by its separate regions. Special research is conducted on the study of the principles of distribution of individual branches of Soviet industry (N. V. Alisov, M. I. Kozlov, N. N. Opatskii, R. S. Livshits, M. P. Palamarchuk), the general laws of distribution of socialist industry and its territorial organization (A. E. Probst), and the region-forming role of industry, industrial complexes, and energy-producing cycles (N. N. Kolosovskii); close attention is also given to the theoretical development of the criteria and evaluations of the relative effectiveness of industrial distribution, especially of industrial complexes (the industrial distribution effectiveness section of the Institute of Economics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, under the direction of la. G. Feigin, and the Council for the Study of Productive Forces of Gosplan [State Planning Committee] of the USSR, under the direction of N. N. Nekrasov). Monographic studies have also been done on the geography of industrial branches in the capitalist world and in individual capitalist and developing countries.

In foreign countries, the beginnings of industrial geography date to the early 20th century, when theoretical works of bourgeois scholars on the distribution of industrial production appeared. Prominent among these were the works of the German economist A. Weber, whose system amounts to an explanation of the laws of distribution of a separately selected industrial enterprise with regard to production costs, with an abstraction of this area from the general principles of capitalist production. Weber’s views, although subjected to criticism from many quarters, are nevertheless widely accepted in modified form in modern bourgeois science. In the USA research work on the distribution of individual industrial branches and industrial combinations is being carried out with the wide use of both traditional methods and up-to-date mathematical methods (H. McCarthy, E. Hoover, W. Isard, and others). The subject of industrial geography in the works of a number of bourgeois geographers (including E. Otremba in West Germany and J. Chardonnet in France) amounts to the study of industrial landscapes and the effects of industry on various aspects of the cultural landscape. Questions associated with socioeconomic factors are usually not treated in the works of bourgeois geographers. A notable exception, however, is the French geographer P. George, who in his works gives much attention to the evaluation of the effect of social aspects on the distribution of industry.


Weber, A. Teoriia razmeshcheniia promyshlennosti. Leningrad-Moscow, 1926.
Stepanov, P. N. Geografiia promyshlennosti SSSR, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1955.
Kolosovskii, N. N.“Proizvodstvenno-territorial’noe sochetanie (kompleks) v sovetskoi ekonomicheskoi geografii.” In his Osnovy ekonomicheskogo raionirovaniia. Moscow, 1958.
Baranskii, N. N. Ekonomicheskaia geografiiaEkonomicheskaia kartografiia. Moscow, 1960.
Probst, A. E. Voprosy razmeshcheniia sotsialisticheskoi promyshlennosti. Moscow, 1971.
Promyshlennost’ v khoziaistvennom komplekse ekonomicheskikh raionov SSSR. Moscow, 1964.
Khrushchev, A. T. Geografiia promyshlennosti SSSR. Moscow, 1969.
Breiterman, A. D. Ekonomicheskaia geografiia SSSR, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1968.
Losch, A. Geograficheskoe razmeshchenie khoziaistva. Moscow, 1959. (Translated from German.)
Isard, W. Metody regional’nogo analiza. Moscow, 1966. (Translated from English.)
Otremba, E. Allgemeine Agrar und Industrie geographic, 2nd ed. Stuttgart, 1960.
Obst, E. Allgemeine Wirtschafts- und Verkehrsgeographie, 2nd ed. Berlin, 1961.
Miller, E. W. A Geography of Manufacturing. Englewood Cliffs (New Jersey), 1962.
Chardonnet, J. Géographic Industrielle, vols. 1-2. Paris, 1963-65.
George, Pierre. Géographic industrielle du monde. Paris, 1966.
Criteria for Location of Industrial Plants. New York, 1967.
Alexandersson, G. Geography of Manufacturing. Englewood Cliffs (New Jersey), 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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