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Neo Determinism( Stop and Go Determinism) UPSC Geography |Geography optional notes

Table of Contents:
  • Concept of Neo-Determinism( Stop and Go Determinism) in Geography
  • Griffith Taylor's views on Neo-determinism
  • Questions-Solutions
    • Write short explanatory notes on Neo-determinism: (UPSC 2010, 10 marks) 
    • Discuss the relevance of “stop and go determinism “  in the present-day context. (UPSC 2016, 15 marks)
    • What are the criticisms of Neo Determinism?
    • Write Short notes on Neo Determinism.
  • MCQ on Neo Determinism
Neo Determinism( Stop and Go Determinism)

  • The concept of Neo-determinism in geography is one of three major approaches in geography (the others being determinism and possibilism) that explain human and environmental relationships.
  • As, neither environmental determinism nor possibilism has been able to explain the relationship between humans and the environment correctly, hence the concept of neo-determinism emerged in geography. 
  • Neo-determinism is also called "Stop and go determinism" because it believes that if human activities (pollution) cause long-term damage to the environment then such activities should be stopped otherwise humans can do everything that the environment allows us to do.
An Australian geographer, Griffith Taylor, was the first to propound the concept of neo-determinism.

Griffith Taylor's views on Neo-determinism:
Not all human activity is completely controlled by the environment as environmental determinism believes, nor is all human activity completely free from the laws of the environment as possibilism believes.
    This is the [middle way] concept between determinism and the possibilism concept.
      Human beings can change the environment through various innovations and activities or can do all those things that are not naturally possible in the environment. For example:
      • Today, by providing the facility of human irrigation and fertilizer, man is cultivating in barren land and even in summer.
      • Nowadays due to innovation, farming has become possible without the use of soil.
      But there is a limit to changing the environment by humans or humans cannot go against everything in the environment. The activities of man should be according to the laws of the environment, otherwise, the environment also forces man to stop and adjust his activities. Examples are:
      • Climate change: The wrong activities [polluting] of human beings are harming the environment. But polluting the environment has a limit. Through climate change, nature is forcing humans to correct their actions toward the environment.
        • In Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan, agricultural productivity has decreased in these areas due to wrong farming practices. A decrease in productivity is also an environmental indicator.
          • Jakarta [the capital of Indonesia] is now submerging in the sea due to the over-exploitation of groundwater.
            • The water crisis in many cities of the world is due to excessive exploitation of groundwater and non-conservation of water, the water crisis in Chennai is the latest example of this.
              • The recent Kerala floods are the result of the over-exploitation of the Western Ghats.
              The environment acts as a controller of traffic. It stops and informs us when we do wrong. Man can speed up, slow down, or stop the development program of the country, following the environmental rules, but he cannot go against the plan of the environment.
              • What will be the path of development of any country, largely decides the physical environment there.
              • In the long run, a nature plan is the best plan; And the best way is to follow natural law in the development program.
              • Nature is not an absolute dictator, nature is neutral, prudent people follow nature's plan and move forward.
              Write short explanatory notes on Neo-determinism: (UPSC 2010, 10 marks) 


              Neo-determinism is a philosophical concept that emerged in response to Environmental determinism. 
              Neo-determinism suggests that while many events and outcomes in the universe may be determined by prior causes or natural laws, there are still many chances to influence these outcomes by human actions. 

              Here are some short explanatory notes on Neo-determinism:

              Rejection of Absolute Determinism: 
              Neo-determinism rejects the idea of absolute determinism, which posits that every event is preordained and predictable based on the initial conditions of the universe. Instead, it acknowledges the existence of indeterminacy in some phenomena.

              Technology as a Modifier: 
              Neo-determinists argued that while environmental factors like climate, topography, and resources played a role in shaping societies, technology could modify or overcome these environmental constraints to a large extent. This was seen as a departure from early environmental determinism.

              Critics argued that neo-determinism failed to account for human agency, innovation, and adaptation in response to environmental challenges
              Neo-determinism still places a heavy emphasis on physical environmental factors such as climate, topography, and resources as the primary drivers of human behavior and societal development. Critics argue that this narrow focus ignores the complex interplay of social, cultural, economic, and political factors in shaping geographical outcomes.

              Replacement by Possibilism: 
              Neo-determinism was gradually replaced by the theory of possibilism, which asserts that while the environment sets certain constraints, humans have the ability to adapt and make choices, creating a range of possibilities within a given geographic context.

              In modern geography, the focus has shifted towards more holistic and interdisciplinary approaches that consider not only physical factors but also the dynamic interplay of social, cultural, economic, and political elements in understanding geographic patterns and processes.

              Discuss the relevance of “stop and go determinism “  in the present-day context. (UPSC 2016, 15 marks)


              "Stop and go determinism" is a concept introduced by geographer Griffith Taylor in the mid-20th century. 

              It refers to a theory that suggests that certain regions or areas may experience periods of rapid economic growth (the "go" phase) followed by stagnation or decline (the "stop" phase); this is happens primarily due to factors like technological change, economic cycles, or environmental hazards ( pollutions, cyclones).

              The following are the relevances of "Stop and go determinism" in the present-day context:

              Environmental Factors: 
              Regions that rely heavily on resource-intensive industries may experience high growth [ go phase]; and also face decline [ stop phase] due to environmental concerns like pollution and resource depletion. We often hear the news regarding the closing of industries in Germany, the USA, and China due to high pollution.

              Economic Cycles: 
              Economic cycles, characterized by periods of expansion followed by recession or stagnation, are still relevant today. The concept of "stop and go determinism" can be applied to understand how regions and cities may experience economic booms during periods of growth, followed by economic setbacks during downturns. This remains a key consideration for regional economic planning.

              Technological Change: 
              Regions that are early adopters or hubs for emerging technologies often experience rapid growth ("go" phase), while others struggle to keep up or adapt, leading to stagnation ("stop" phase). Understanding this dynamic is crucial for economic development strategies.

              In the case of globalization "Stop and go determinism"  is very much relevant. Earlier, the USA and other European countries were benefiting the globalization [ Go phase], and now they are not getting the same benefits [ stop phase].

              Urbanization and Migration: 
              The movement of people from rural to urban areas continues worldwide. Understanding how urban centers go through growth and stagnation cycles can inform urban planning, infrastructure development, and resource allocation.

              Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Today, innovation and entrepreneurship are key drivers of economic growth. Regions that foster innovation ecosystems can experience sustained growth, while others may struggle to generate economic momentum.

              In summary, "stop and go determinism" remains relevant in the present-day context, especially when analyzing regional economic development. 


              What are the criticisms of Neo Determinism?


              Neo-determinism in geography, like its predecessor environmental determinism, has faced significant criticism for its simplistic and deterministic views. 

              Here are some of the key criticisms of neo-determinism in geography:

              Overemphasis on Environmental Factors: 
              Neo-determinism still places a heavy emphasis on physical environmental factors such as climate, topography, and resources as the primary drivers of human behavior and societal development.
              It was also criticized that Neo-determinism ignores the complex interplay of social, cultural, economic, and political factors in shaping human-environmental relations.

              Neglect of Human Innovation: 
              Neo-determinism neglects the role of human technology and innovation in responding to environmental challenges [ like pollution and resource depletion]. 
              It fails to account for the capacity of individuals and societies to adapt, make choices, and modify their environments to suit their needs.

              Failure to Explain Regional Diversity: 
              Neo-determinism failed to explain the diversity of societies and cultures within similar environmental settings. It does not account for why different groups of people facing similar environmental conditions can have vastly different social, economic, and cultural outcomes.

              Inaccuracy in Predictions: 
              The deterministic nature of neo-determinism often led to inaccurate predictions about the future development of regions. It failed to foresee how regions could overcome environmental constraints through technological advancements, policy changes, or shifts in economic focus.

              As a result of these criticisms, neo-determinism has largely fallen out of favor within the field of geography. Modern geography adopts more holistic, interdisciplinary, and nuanced approaches that consider a broader range of factors influencing geographical phenomena, including the dynamic interplay of social, cultural, economic, and political forces.


              Write Short notes on Neo Determinism.


                Neo-determinism is a term used in geography to describe a modified form of environmental determinism, a theory that suggests that the physical environment directly determines human behavior and societal development. 
                Neo-determinism incorporates some elements of determinism while acknowledging certain modifications and complexities.

                Neo-determinism has been used in geography to explain regional variations in development and culture. It can help understand why certain regions flourish economically while others struggle, taking into account environmental, technological, and social factors.

                The following are short notes on neo-determinism:

                Revised Determinism: 
                Neo-determinism emerged as a reaction to the extreme determinism of environmental determinism. It seeks to strike a balance between acknowledging the influence of the physical environment and recognizing the role of other factors in shaping human activities and societies.
                It provides the middle path between Environmental determinism and Possibilism.

                Role of Environment: 
                Neo-determinism still considers the physical environment as an important factor in influencing human behavior and cultural development. Factors like climate, topography, and resource availability are taken into account.

                Technological Modification: 
                One key aspect of neo-determinism is the idea that technology can modify or mediate the effects of the environment on human societies. In other words, advancements in technology can help societies adapt to challenging environments.

                Economic and Social Factors: 
                Neo-determinism acknowledges that economic and social factors, such as trade networks, population, and government policies, also play significant roles in shaping human activities and development.

                Cultural and Historical Context:
                Unlike strict environmental determinism, neo-determinism recognizes the importance of cultural and historical contexts in influencing human behavior. It understands that different cultures may respond differently to the same environmental conditions.

                Neo-determinism, like environmental determinism, has faced criticism for oversimplifying the complex interplay of factors influencing human societies. 
                Neo-determinism still neglects the role of human innovation, technology,  and choice.

                In summary, neo-determinism represents a more middle-path approach to understanding the relationship between the environment and human societies compared to environmental determinism and Possibilism. It recognizes the importance of the environment while acknowledging that human societies are shaped by a multitude of interacting factors.

                Answer the following multiple-choice questions on Neo Determinism:

                1. Neo Determinism is also known as?
                a) Go and Forward Determinism
                b) Stop and look at Determinism
                c) Stop and Go Determinism
                d) Environmental Determinism

                Answer. c) Stop and Go Determinism

                2. Which of the following geographical perspectives reflects a middle path between two ideas namely environmental determinism and possibilism?
                a) Environmental determinism
                b) Stop and Go Determinism
                c) Quantitative revolution
                d) Feminism in geography

                Answer. b) Stop and Go Determinism

                3. Who introduced Neo Determinism in geography?
                a) Carl Ritter
                b) Richard Hartshorne
                c) Griffith Taylor
                d) J L Berry

                Answer. c) Griffith Taylor

                4. Which of the following geographical thoughts believed that the environment acts as a controller of traffic and nature is not completely dictator?
                a) Environmental Determinism
                b) Neo Determinism
                c) Possibilism
                d) Quantitative revolution

                Answer. b) Neo Determinism

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