Intermittent Development of Central Place Systems: The Dynamics of Unification and Breakup

Ruslan V. Dmitriev, Stanislav A. Gorokhov, Maksim M. Agafoshin


Relevance. The development of central place theory has been hindered by its static nature, as it fails to capture transitions between equilibrium states in central place systems. This long-standing problem remains unsolved since the theory's inception 90 years ago. This article presents a solution by examining the cases of system unification and system breakup, where previously independent systems merge or split.

Research objective: The study aims to identify the conditions under which central place systems resume continual development following revolutionary transformations in their structure.

Data and methods: The research analyzes census data from India (1947-2011) and Yemen (1973-2004) using equations based on the axioms of central place theory. The study also considers isostatic equilibrium as the foundation of central place system structures.

Results: The effect of intermittence on the steady evolution of a central place system diminishes rapidly after the unification of two independent systems. In contrast, the adaptation of elements from a previously unified system to new conditions, including reinstating the former hierarchy and spatial structure, takes significantly longer after a system breakup. The study introduces a novel perspective, highlighting that the unification of central place systems tends to lead to progress, whereas the breakup of a unified system results in degradation.

Conclusions: The true benefit to a central place system lies not solely in achieving isostatic equilibrium but in maintaining a secure and optimal structure. While these concepts share similarities, they may appear more distinct when examining the central place system as a whole. Equilibrium represents an optimal state for individual hierarchy levels rather than the entire system.


central place theory, spatial structure, hierarchical structure, evolution, revolutionary change

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