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Mixed qualitative-simulation methods : understanding geography through thick and thin.

Millington, J. and Wainwright, J. (2017) 'Mixed qualitative-simulation methods : understanding geography through thick and thin.', Progress in human geography., 41 (1). pp. 68-88.


Across geography there has been variable engagement with the use of simulation and agent-based modelling. We argue that agent-based simulation provides a complementary method to investigate geographical issues which need not be used in ways that are epistemologically different in kind from some other approaches in contemporary geography. We propose mixed qualitative-simulation methods that iterate back-and-forth between ‘thick’ (qualitative) and ‘thin’ (simulation) approaches and between the theory and data they produce. These mixed methods accept simulation modelling as process and practice; a way of using computers with concepts and data to ensure social theory remains embedded in day-to-day geographical thinking.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Agent-based model, Explanation, Modelling, Mixed methods, Simulation.
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Publisher statement:This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (
Date accepted:21 December 2015
Date deposited:12 February 2016
Date of first online publication:04 February 2016
Date first made open access:No date available

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