Demographic Gravitation


United States: potentials of population, 1940.

(Stewart, 1948)

Initially interested in matters extraterrestrial by mid-career [John Q. Stewart's] research focus became increasingly earthly. […] Part of that same terrestrial turn was his interest in models of population potential; that is, applying ideas of gravitational potential to the geographical distribution of population.

(Barnes & Wilson, 2014)

Stewart found that expected and actual numbers of alumni ‘more or less’ lined up. It showed him that potential models applied not only to objects in the heavens but also to those down on earth within the social field, thus fulfilling the promise of monism; that is, a social physics one-size-fits-all theory.

(Barnes & Wilson, 2014)

Barnes, T. J. and Wilson, M. W. (2014) ‘Big Data, social physics, and spatial analysis: The early years’, Big Data & Society, 1(1), pp. 1–14. [link]

Stewart, J. Q. (1948) ‘Demographic Gravitation: Evidence and Applications’, Sociometry. American Sociological Association, 11(1/2), pp. 31–58. [link]