The Origin And Development Of Social Geography In Poland, With Special Emphasis On The Centre Of Geographical Studies In Łódź
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The formation of social geography in Poland should be considered with reference to internal and external determinants of its development. Contemporary research problems, the treatment of research methodologies and theoretical concepts are undoubtedly closely related to the models stemming from the Anglo-Saxon geography. However, it is worth noting that while social geography abroad is part of extensive ideological and evaluative discussions, Polish social geography represents the behavioural trend under string influence of neo-scientistic methodology, which is caused by both the cognitive conservatism of the researchers and the prevailing social structure of Polish scientific community. The existing consensus based on models accepted in early 1980s and motivated by concession (selective) access to information is still hard to overcome. The dominance of quantitative methods and the lack of a broader theoretical (philosophical) reflection maintain mental clichés cause the research problems of social geography, both in theoretical sense and in the number of active researchers, to be taken over by other branches of science that are stronger in terms of theory, such as sociology, social anthropology or economics. The current reorientation of socio-economic geography towards spatial economy and management is, in our opinion, a kind of return to the known cognitive and methodological contents characteristic to the old economic geography in a new packaging and using modern research technologies (computers). The simultaneous lack of willingness to perform in-depth theoretical reflections (also characteristic of the entire Polish socio-economic geography) and the failure of social geographers to undertake major research challenges could lead to a crisis of this discipline in the institutional structure, followed by the regression in research, both in Poland and Łódź. We should hope that over the years, when the political, social and economic transformation is at last completed in Poland, full openness to ideas and free exchange of thoughts between geographers with various views will finally emerge. It seems that it could become an impulse to undertake new theoretical and methodological challenges and to solve the growing socio-spatial problems in the country.
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