In simple terms Quantitative Revolution can be defined as the diffusion of statistical techniques in geography to make the subject and its theories more precise. Geography can be regarded as a science concerned with the rational development, and testing of theories that explain and predict the spatial distribution and location of various characteristics on the surface of the earth. In order to achieve this new defined objective of geography and to ascertain the real picture of a region, geographers started the use and application of quantitative tools and techniques and the quantitative geography was opposed, especially in 1960. After this revolution, the quantitative techniques and general system theory have been used extensively in geography. It is after the quantitative revolution that geographers started concentrating, more on field studies generating primary data, utilizing secondary data, and applying the sampling techniques. The old methods of induction which necessitated much routine plodding can now be replaced by the testing of hypothesis, law of models etc.
Many of these theories were borrowed from other branches of social and physical sciences. For example location theory was borrowed from economics. Study of industrial location 1909 is an economic theory.
Similarly crop intensity model of J.H. Von. Thunen 1826 is an economic theory.
Hooven, losch and isards models were also borrowed by geographers from economics.
Christaller used applied quantitative techniques in his study about the central places in Southern Germany.
Interaction model was directly related with the Newton’s law of gravity.
Advantages of Quantitative Techniques
- All these techniques are firmly based on empirical observations and are readily verifiable.
- They help in reducing a multitude of observations to a manageable number of factors.
- They allow the formulation of structured ideas and theories which can be tested under the assumed conditions.
- They help in deriving suitable models to understand the interaction of the evolved factors and their process within the models and with reference to observed facts.
- They help in identifying tendencies and desired trends, laws and theoretical concepts.
Disadvantages of Quantitative Techniques
- The theories and models based on the basis of empirical data do not take into account the normative questions like beliefs, emotions, attitudes, desires, hopes and fears and therefore, can not be taken as the tools explaining exact geographical realities.
- The preachers of quantitative techniques have sacrificed many good qualities of quantitative statements which are even now even quite useful.
- It has been observe that generalization done in this technique brings quite exaggerated results.
- They demand sophisticated data which are rarely attainable outside developed world.
- The factorial design depend on the used of the costly computer time and considerable financial assistance which are rarely available to the individual researcher of areal variation.
- Date generated and theories formulated are generally tested in developed countries and they cannot became the true representative of all the countries. So concept of a universal law which has been tested on a part of land cannot be true.