Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, Tarbiat Modares University Tehran, Iran.

2 Senior researcher on urban and regional planning, Institute for Culture, Arts and Architecture, Tehran, Iran.


By reviewing the literature of spatial organization and analyzing urban systems as an interdisciplinary field, two different paradigms have been recognized: size-based and network-based paradigms. The first one relies on the definition of urban system as a collection of nodes (urban settlements) organized based on their internal attributes. This paradigm, while ignoring interaction among them, focuses on the concentration of activities or functions in nodes. In the last few decades and with the emergence of the system approach, defined as “an interdependent national or regional set of cities” as a system, considerable attention has been paid to investigating reciprocal interurban relationships. In this period, the element of interaction became more important in the description of urban systems. Following this, since the position of a given city in the urban system is a function of interurban flows, it is affected by the relationship with others. This approach considers the interurban relationship as horizontal and non-local interactions, which are features of service economies versus industrial economies. Thus, to understand and apply these approaches, first, the theoretical literature on space organization in urban systems and its evolution were reviewed; then, the new dominant theoretical and epistemological rationality, with its attributes and components, was explained, compared and categorized in order to develop new insights for operational research. This article is fundamental in its objective, and has employed descriptive methodology based on contextual data to do a comparative study of theoretical content and ontological basics of traditional approaches versus new ones. 


1. Since the emergence of systemic approach, a great deal of attention has been paid on investigating reciprocal interurban relationships.

2. This approach considers the interurban relationship as horizontal and non-local interactions, which are the feature of service economies versus industrial economies.

3. This article is to examine theoretical substantial and fundamental anthologies of traditional approaches versus new ones. 


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