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Muhammad Adil Raufcorresponding author
Olaf Weber


Regional and spatial studies, such as urban planning, energy planning, and sustainable development, address the complexity of the inter-disciplinary relationship between subsystems and their components. Such studies require multidisciplinary concepts, varied lenses, and differentiating approaches and models to address the conflict between contextual sensitivity and universal applicability. This paper reviews the debate on the research approaches adopted in regional studies and initiated by researcher Ann Markusen, followed by a review of contemporary literature on the concept of fuzziness in the qualitative research. Markusen evaluated the conceptual fuzziness, empirical evidence, and policy dimensions of regional studies. The argument was based on three fundamental aspects of regional and urban development studies; strong contestation of phenomena, empirical evidence to support the concept, and collective action to deal with the problems under investigation. A conceptual fuzziness and the methodological weaknesses in the qualitative research, highlighted by Markusen almost two decades ago, persist in interdisciplinary qualitative research. In this study, we have dissected the concept of fuzziness to distinguish between Inherited fuzziness derived from the configurational complexity of a case and bequeathed fuzziness that could be transferred ahead due to a researcher’s methodological and perceptual weaknesses. Despite efforts made to address the relevance, reliability, validity, and replicability of the qualitative research, the field is still facing challenges from conceptual bias, methodological and operational constraints, empirical weakness, and prejudiced interpretation.

regional studies, spatial planning, fuzzy concepts, sustainability, research methods

Article Details

How to Cite
Rauf, M., & Weber, O. (2021). Regional studies and conceptual fuzziness: A critical review. Resources and Environmental Economics, 3(1), 251-262.


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