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Diffusion

  • By: Peter J. Hugill
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Although diffusion research is a central part of modern social science, it has a long and sometimes contentious history, with intellectual roots in anthropology and archaeology as well as in cultural geography. Diffusion research studies both diffusion—how innovations move—and innovation itself, which is the creation of new technologies that allow humans to control their environment better, whether such technologies are artifacts (hardware) or simply ways to program how work is done (software). Its third concern is adoption—how different societies receive, reject, and modify innovations. Such studies are common not only in geography but also in agriculture, education, rural sociology, history, and business studies. Understanding the processes by which technologies are transferred—innovation, diffusion, and adoption—is highly desirable in policy development and management studies. Within geography, there ...

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