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  Strictly the science of form but often used as a synonym for form itself: for example, \'geomorphology\' is both \'the science of landform study\' and a synonym for \'landform\'.

Some social scientists have used morphology as a synonym for \'structure\', as in Halbwachs\'s (1960) Morphologie sociale which is concerned with society\'s demographic and socio-economic structure: Halbwachs drew on Durkheim\'s writings, which also influenced French geography through Vidal de la Blache. Durkheim identified geographers\' proper role as the study of social morphology, of \'the mass of individuals who comprise the society, the manner in which they are disposed upon the earth, and the nature and configuration of objects of all sorts which affect collective relations\'.

In human geography, the term\'s classic use is Sauer\'s (1925) statement on The morphology of landscape. He argued that morphologic method is a particular form of synthesis, an inductive procedure for identifying the major structural (form) elements in the landscape and arranging them in a developmental sequence (their morphogenesis). He emphasized that study of cultural landscapes involved: (a) general geography, or the study of the form-elements themselves (what today is called systematic geography); (b) regional geography, or comparative morphology; and (c) historical geography, which studies the development sequence, as in sequent occupance.

The study of elements of the townscape is frequently referred to as the study of urban morphology (see fringe belt). (RJJ)

References Halbwachs, M. 1960: Morphologie sociale, trans. O.D. Duncan and H.W. Pfautz. Glencoe, IL: The Free Press. Sauer, C.O. 1925: The morphology of landscape. Berkeley, CA: University of California Publications in Geography 2: 19-54.

Suggested Reading Leighly, J., ed., 1963: Land and life: a selection from the writings of Carl Ortwin Sauer. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.



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