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Torsten Hägerstrand


Torsten Hägerstrand

Torsten Hägerstrand
Hägerstrand in 1991
Born (1916-10-11)October 11, 1916
Moheda, Sweden
Died May 4, 2004(2004-05-04)
Lund, Sweden
Residence Sweden
Citizenship Sweden
Nationality Swedish
Fields Geography
Institutions Lund University
Alma mater Lund University
Known for Time geography
Human migration
Cultural diffusion
Notable awards Lauréat Prix International de Géographie Vautrin Lud
Outstanding Achievement Award from the Association of American Geographers

Torsten Hägerstrand (October 11, 1916, Moheda – May 3, 2004, Lund) was a Swedish geographer. He is known for his work on migration, cultural diffusion and time geography.

A native and resident of Sweden, Hägerstrand was a professor (later professor emeritus) of geography at Lund University, where he received his doctorate in 1953. His doctoral research was on cultural diffusion. His research has helped to make Sweden, and particularly Lund, a major center of innovative work in cultural geography.[1] He also influenced the practice of spatial planning in Sweden through his students.[2]


  • Early life 1
  • Academic career 2
  • Legacy 3
  • Honors 4
  • Key publications 5
  • See also 6
  • Footnotes 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10

Early life

Hägerstrand's father was a teacher at a remote elementary school and the family lived at the school. Hägerstrand recalled that his early education was based on the pedagogical ideas of Swiss educator Johann Pestalozzi. Several of Hägerstrand's students speculated that his holistic and visionary thinking was rooted in his early education:[3]

He was taught local geography, history and folklore at home in the Pestalozzi tradition which was being introduced at that time. Cartography, geology, botany and agronomy were all interrelated parts of a more holistic understanding of processes within a spatial area. To start with, children learned about their immediate environment (e.g., the school room and the farm), then about the village, and gradually the whole district. As a pupil of Hägerstrand, it is easy for me to recognize parts of this tradition which later became what we today would refer to as an 'integrative perspective'.[4]

Academic career

Hägerstrand entered Lund University in 1937. His 1953 doctoral thesis Innovation Diffusion as a Spatial Process gained fame for its innovative use of Monte Carlo simulation of demographic development.[5] It showed how dynamic, incremental simulation of spatial processes could be used at the spatial scale of the individual as well as large spatial aggregates. Forty years later, geographer Andrew Cliff remarked on the foresight of Hägerstrand's methodology: "Bearing in mind that much of the research upon which the book is based dates from a time when computers were almost nonexistent, let alone used by geographers, it is remarkable that the simulation methodology which is so critically dependent upon computing power should have been contemplated."[6]

In 1969, he presented a paper entitled What about People in Regional Science? to the European Congress of the Regional Science Association in Copenhagen, Denmark.[7] This paper, published in 1970, developed two concepts:

  • The need to study the individual in order to understand social and group practices. Modern cultural geographers commonly now study everyday practices on an individualistic basis, in order to understand larger scale patterns. The study of just groups creates a homogenization of reality and hides the truth.
  • A link between space and time that had previously been poorly developed. Historically, social scientists had treated time as a relevant but external factor to spatial features. Hägerstrand's early work on innovation diffusion (studying the geographical spread of new technologies) made him realise that the two, though separate, were not independent of each other; they have what French theorist Henri Lefebvre would call a dialectical relationship.


Hägerstrand's initial work was primarily quantitative, which is important as the discipline of geography was, when he published his first paper in 1942, a highly descriptive subject.[8] In the 1950s he was a pioneer of geocoding statistical primary data.[9] He developed models and statistical techniques, such as the time–space cube and time–space prism, which later became important in the development of geographic information systems that process and visualize movement data.[10] His work informed the likes of Allan Pred and Nigel Thrift, who helped take it to the English speaking world.[11]

Hägerstrand's work contributed to the introduction of humanistic thought into geography, which led to the development of critical geography.[12] While his early work was largely quantitative, Hägerstrand's later work paid closer attention to notions of embodiment and emotion.[13] Still, his methods were critiqued by feminist geographer Gillian Rose, who claimed that his models showed a masculine and falsely-ordered view of the world.[14] More recent geographers have tried to combine time geography with the qualitative research and affective phenomenology of feminist geography.[15]

Development of Hägerstrand's work has continued to form part of the basis for non-representational theory, and a reappraisal of his work by new generations of social scientists[16] and biologists[17] means that he remains an influential thinker today. In 2005, Nigel Thrift summarized five benefits of Hägerstrand's time geography for contemporary social science:

First, it provides a sense of concreteness, of the power of 'thereness', and it does so in a way—visually—that is still the preserve of too few social theorists. All those intricate diagrams were, in part, an attempt to describe the pragmatics of events, a theme which has now, in the work of writers like Deleuze, become fashionable in the social sciences and humanities but, at the time at which Hägerstrand was working, tended to be restricted to the field of philosophy, except for the work of social interactionists and ethnomethodologists which was often very imperfectly understood by other than a relatively small coterie of enthusiasts. Secondly, Hägerstrand's work was an attack on the Durkheimian idea that space and time were social categories, collective representations which both derived from society and also dictated to society. [...] Time-geography makes it possible to go beyond social constructionism by emphasizing the physical constraints on human action and the wider networks of competing opportunities that they set up which act to steer situations. [...] Thirdly, and as a directly related point, those time-geographic diagrams did something else too. They radically lessened the distinction between humans and other objects. They provided a kind of neutrality of representation, even a democracy of description, of the world. [...] Fourthly, Hägerstrand's work espoused a geographical ethics, centred on the wise use of space and time. Although Hägerstrand would often use economic metaphors to describe that wisdom in the use of space and time, I am sure that he meant something broader and more encompassing which it seems to me to be well worth keeping hold of, a kind of democratic ethos of the cardinal dimensions, a conviviality in the use of space and time. Fifthly, Hägerstrand provided a language which could register the world in different ways. Perhaps one way of looking at Hägerstrand's work is as a means of saying 'hello' in a language many can understand: drawing as a kind of visual Esperanto.[18]


In 1992 Torsten Hägerstrand was awarded Lauréat Prix International de Géographie Vautrin Lud, the highest award in the geography research field.

He received honorary doctorates from University of Bergen, Norwegian school of economics and business administration, University of Trondheim, University of Bristol, University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow and Ohio State University. The commendation accompanying the honorary degree at Ohio State University noted that "his work on innovation diffusion, carried out in the 1950s and 1960s, continues to be cited as a standard against which current research is measured" and that "this distinguished individual...inspired a generation of scholars around the world."

He was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, the Finnish Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, and a member of Société de Géographie in France. He was also one of the founding members of Academia Europaea.

In 1968 Professor Hägerstrand received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Association of American Geographers. In 1979 he received the Victoria Medal from the Royal Geographical Society.

Key publications

  • Hägerstrand, Torsten (1952). The propagation of innovation waves. Lund studies in geography: Series B, Human geography, 4. Lund: Royal University of Lund, Dept. of Geography.  
  • Hannerberg, David; Hägerstrand, Torsten, eds. (1957). Migration in Sweden: a symposium. Lund studies in geography: Series B, Human geography, 13. Lund: CWK Gleerup.  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten (1967) [1953]. Innovation diffusion as a spatial process [Innovationsförloppet ur korologisk synpunkt]. Postscript and translation by Allan Pred; Translated with the assistance of Greta Haag. Chicago:  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten (December 1967). "The computer and the geographer".  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten (1970). "What about people in regional science?". Papers of the  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten (1973). On the definition of migration. Rapporter och notiser, 9. Scandinavian population studies. Lund: Lunds universitets kulturgeografiska institution.  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten (1973). "The domain of human geography". In Chorley, Richard J. Directions in geography. London: Methuen. pp. 67–87.  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten (1974). "Ecology under one perspective". In Bylund, Erik; Linderholm, Håkan; Rune, Olof. Ecological problems of the circumpolar area: papers from the international symposium at Luleå, Sweden, June 28–29, 1971. Luleå: Norrbottens Museum. pp. 271–276.  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten (1974). The impact of transport on the quality of life. Rapporter och notiser, 13. Lund: Lunds universitets kulturgeografiska institution.  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten (1975). "Space, time and human conditions". In Karlqvist, Anders; Lundqvist, Lars; Snickars, Folke. Dynamic allocation of urban space. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books. pp. 3–14.  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten (1976). "Geography and the study of interaction between nature and society". Geoforum 7 (5–6): 329–334.  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten (1978). "Survival and arena: on the life-history of individuals in relation to their geographical environment". In Carlstein, Tommy; Parkes, Don;  
  • Buttimer, Anne; Hägerstrand, Torsten (1980). Invitation to dialogue: a progress report. DIA paper, 1. Lund: University of Lund.  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten (1982). "Diorama, path and project". Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie 73 (6): 323–339.  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten (1983). "In search for the sources of concepts". In Buttimer, Anne. The practice of geography. London; New York: Longman. pp. 238–256.  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten, ed. (1985). The identification of progress in learning. European Science Foundation; International Colloquium on the Identification of Progress in Learning. Cambridge:  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten (1985). "Time geography: focus on the corporeality of man, society and environment". In Aida, Shūhei. The science and praxis of complexity: contributions to the symposium held at Montpellier, France, 9–11 May, 1984. Tokyo:  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten (1991). Om tidens vidd och tingens ordning (in Swedish). A selection of Professor Hägerstrand's 300-odd scholarly essays, articles, lectures, and papers, edited by Gösta Carlestam and Barbro Sollbe. Stockholm: Byggforskningsrådet.  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten (1992). "The global and the local". In Svedin, Uno; Aniansson, Britt Hägerhäll. Society and the environment: a Swedish research perspective. Ecology, economy & environment, 2. Dordrecht; Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 13–21.  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten (1995). "Action in the physical everyday world". In Haggett, Peter; Cliff, Andrew. Diffusing geography: essays for Peter Haggett. The  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten (2001) [1995]. "A look at the political geography of environmental management". In Buttimer, Anne. Sustainable landscapes and lifeways: scale and appropriateness. Sterling, VA: Cork University Press. pp. 35–58.  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten; Carlstein, Tommy (December 2004). "The two vistas".  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten (2009). Tillvaroväven (in Swedish). Edited by Kajsa Ellegård and Uno Svedin, with a bibliography by Bo Lenntorp. Stockholm: Forskningsrådet Formas.  

See also


  1. ^ Buttimer & Mels 2006
  2. ^ Öberg 2005
  3. ^ Öberg 2005; Pred 2005
  4. ^ Öberg 2005, p. 341
  5. ^ Hägerstrand 1967; Morrill 2005; Lenntorp 2008
  6. ^ Cliff, Pred & Hägerstrand 1992, p. 541
  7. ^ Hägerstrand 1970
  8. ^ Hubbard et al. 2002, pp. 22–56
  9. ^ Aase 2004
  10. ^ For example: Miller 1991; Kwan 2004; Kraak 2008; Yu & Shaw 2008; Wilson 2008; Kenett & Portugali 2012; Long & Nelson 2012
  11. ^ Thrift 1977; Pred 1977; Pred 1981
  12. ^ Christiaan van Paassen, The philosophy of geography: from Vidal to Hägerstrand, in Pred 1981, pp. 17–29
  13. ^ Hägerstrand 1983; Hubbard et al. 2002, pp. 101–104
  14. ^ Rose 1993
  15. ^ For example: Kwan 2002; Kwan 2007; Kwan & Ding 2008; McQuoid & Dijst 2012; Scholten, Friberg & Sandén 2012
  16. ^ For example: Ellegård & de Pater 1999; May & Thrift 2001; Latham 2003; Schwanen & Kwan 2009; Ellegård & Palm 2011; Ingold 2011
  17. ^ For example: Baer & Butler 2000; Huettmann & Cushman 2009; Downs, Horner & Tucker 2011
  18. ^ Thrift 2005, pp. 337–338


  • Aase, Alørn (2004). "Obituaries – Nekrologer: Torsten Hägerstrand 1916–2004".  
  • Baer, Leonard D; Butler, David R (April 2000). "Space–time modeling of grizzly bears". Geographical Review 90 (2): 206–221.  
  • Buttimer, Anne; Mels, Tom (2006). By northern lights: on the making of geography in Sweden. Foreword by Torsten Hägerstrand. Aldershot, England; Burlington, VT: Ashgate.  
  • Cliff, Andrew;  
  • Downs, Joni A; Horner, Mark W; Tucker, Anton D (September 2011). "Time-geographic density estimation for home range analysis". Annals of GIS 17 (3): 163–171.  
  • Ellegård, Kajsa; de Pater, Ben (July 1999). "The complex tapestry of everyday life". GeoJournal 48 (3): 149–153.  
  • Ellegård, Kajsa; Palm, Jenny (May 2011). "Visualizing energy consumption activities as a tool for making everyday life more sustainable". Applied Energy 88 (5): 1920–1926.  
  • Hubbard, Phil; Kitchin, Rob; Bartley, Brendan; Fuller, Duncan (2002). Thinking geographically: space, theory, and contemporary human geography. Continuum studies in geography education. London; New York: Continuum.  
  • Huettmann, Falk; Cushman, Samuel A, eds. (2009). Spatial complexity, informatics, and wildlife conservation. Tokyo; New York: Springer.  
  • Kenett, Dror Y; Portugali, Juval (July 2012). "Population movement under extreme events".  
  • Kraak, Menno-Jan (2008). "Geovisualization and time: new opportunities for the space-time cube". In Dodge, Martin; McDerby, Mary; Turner, Martin. Geographic visualization: concepts, tools and applications. Chichester, England; Hoboken, NJ:  
  • Kwan, Mei-Po (2002). "Is GIS for women?: reflections on the critical discourse in the 1990s" (PDF). Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography 9 (3): 271–279.  
  • Kwan, Mei-Po (December 2004). "GIS methods in time-geographic research: geocomputation and geovisualization of human activity patterns" (PDF).  
  • Kwan, Mei-Po (2007). "Affecting geospatial technologies: toward a feminist politics of emotion" (PDF). The Professional Geographer 59 (1): 22–34.  
  • Kwan, Mei-Po; Ding, Guoxiang (2008). "Geo-narrative: extending geographic information systems for narrative analysis in qualitative and mixed-method research" (PDF). The Professional Geographer 60 (4): 443–465.  
  • Latham, Allan (2003). "Research, performance, and doing human geography: some reflections on the diary-photograph, diary-interview method". Environment and Planning A 35 (11): 1993–2017.  
  • Lenntorp, Bo (2008). "Innovation diffusion as spatial process (1953): Torsten Hägerstrand". In Hubbard, Phil; Kitchin, Rob; Valentine, Gill. Key texts in human geography. Los Angeles: Sage. pp. 1–8.  
  • Long, Jed A; Nelson, Trisalyn A (July 2012). "A review of quantitative methods for movement data". International Journal of Geographical Information Science.  
  • May, Jon; Thrift, Nigel J, eds. (2001). TimeSpace: geographies of temporality. Critical geographies, 13. London; New York: Routledge.  
  • McQuoid, Julia; Dijst, Martin (July 2012). "Bringing emotions to time geography: the case of mobilities of poverty". Journal of Transport Geography 23: 26–34.  
  • Miller, Harvey J (1991). "Modelling accessibility using space-time prism concepts within geographical information systems". International Journal of Geographical Information Science 5 (3): 287–301.  
  • Öberg, Sture (June 2005). "Hägerstrand and the remaking of Sweden". Progress in Human Geography 29 (3): 340–349.  
  • Scholten, Christina; Friberg, Tora; Sandén, Annika (December 2012). "Re-reading time-geography from a gender perspective: examples from gendered mobility". Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie 103 (5): 584–600.  
  • Schwanen, Tim; Kwan, Mei-Po (2009). "'Doing' critical geographies with numbers". The Professional Geographer 61 (4): 459–464.  
  • Wilson, Clarke (2008). "Activity patterns in space and time: calculating representative Hägerstrand trajectories". Transportation 35 (4): 485–499.  
  • Yu, Hongbo; Shaw, Shih-Lung (2008). "Exploring potential human activities in physical and virtual spaces: a spatio-temporal GIS approach". International Journal of Geographical Information Science 22 (4): 409–430.  

Further reading

  • Buttimer, Anne (2007). "Torsten Hägerstrand (1916–2004)". In Withers, Charles W J; Lorimer, Hayden. Geographers: biobibliographical studies. Vol. 26. Published on behalf of the Commission on the History of Geographical Thought of the International Geographical Union and the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science. London; New York: Continuum. pp. 119–157.  
  • Carlstein, Tommy (1982). Time resources, society, and ecology: on the capacity for human interaction in space and time. London; Boston: Allen & Unwin.  
  • Carlstein, Tommy; Parkes, Don;  
  • Carlstein, Tommy; Parkes, Don;  
  • Corbett, John (2001). "Torsten Hägerstrand: time geography". Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science. Retrieved January 5, 2013. 
  • Ellegård, Kajsa; Svedin, Uno (July 2012). "Torsten Hägerstrand's time-geography as the cradle of the activity approach in transport geography". Journal of Transport Geography 23: 17–25.  
  • Flowerdew, Robin (2011) [2004]. "Torsten Hägerstrand". In Hubbard, Phil; Kitchin, Rob. Key thinkers on space and place (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: Sage. pp. 199–204.  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten (1984). "Presence and absence: a look at conceptual choices and bodily necessities". Regional Studies 18 (5): 373–379.  
  • Hägerstrand, Torsten (2002) [1995]. "Virtual traces in space and time". In O'Hara, Morgan. Morgan O'Hara: live transmissions: attention and drawing as time-based performance 2. Bergamo: Lubrina Editore.  
  • Hoppe, Göran; Langton, John (1986). "Time-geography and economic development: the changing structure of livelihood positions on arable farms in nineteenth century Sweden".  
  • Kuklinski, Antoni (1987). "Torsten Hägerstrand laudatio". GeoJournal 14 (4): 503–510.  
  • Lenntorp, Bo (1976). Paths in space-time environments: a timegeographic study of movement possibilities of individuals. Lund studies in geography: Series B, Human geography, 44. Lund: Royal University of Lund, Dept. of Geography.  
  • Lenntorp, Bo (December 2004). "Publications by Torsten Hägerstrand 1938–2004".  
  • Lenntorp, Bo (July 1999). "Time-geography—at the end of its beginning". GeoJournal 48 (3): 155–158.  
  • Lenntorp, Bo; Törnqvist, Gunnar; Wärneryd, Olof; Öberg, Sture (December 2004). "Torsten Hägerstrand 1916–2004".  
  • Morrill, Richard (June 2005). "Hägerstrand and the 'quantitative revolution': a personal appreciation". Progress in Human Geography 29 (3): 333–336.  
  • Persson, Olle; Ellegård, Kajsa (2012). "Torsten Hägerstrand in the citation time web". The Professional Geographer 64 (2): 250–261.  
  • Rose, Courtice G (February 1977). "Reflections on the notion of time incorporated in Hägerstrand's time-geographic model of society". Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie 68 (1): 43–50.  
  • Sui, Daniel Z (July 2012). "Looking through Hägerstrand's dual vistas: towards a unifying framework for time geography". Journal of Transport Geography 23: 5–16.  

External links

  • "Torsten Hägerstrand" Encyclopædia Britannica

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