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Constraints are a kind of restrictions that an actor or group of actors restrics in their actions. The concept of constraints was created in the time-geography approach and was mainly presented by Torsten Hägerstrand (1970). Hägerstrand noted that individuals cannot perform any action they want because they are restricted by three different types of constraints. The three constraints that Hagerstrand points out are:

1. Capability constraints

2. Coupling constraints

3. Authority constraints

1. Capability constraints The constraint of cabaility refers to the restrictions that the actor faces because of natural causes. An actor for example needs to eat, sleep and drink enough and to have enough time in order to be able to function in life. Other examples are that we are limited in our personal speed. We can't for instance run faster than a car can drive.

2. Coupling constraints To overcome the limited capacity of human potential as described as capability constraints human actors use different kinds of devices like cars to quicken. When an actor doesn't have a car he faces a coupling constraints. Another example of a coupling constraint is when an appointment between two actors can't be made because the personal agenda's of two actors don't match and a right time cannot be found.

3. Authority constraints In life actors face all kinds of rules. Of course there are laws in society that actors need to face. But there are also other kinds of rules that restrict actors in their actions. Opening and closing times of shops is a good example of this. Unfortunately we are not able to do the shopping at 3.00 a.m. This is a good example of the so called authority constraints.

Conclusion We've seen that the concept of constraints as created by Hägerstrand (1970) has great influence on the actions of people. They create different life-time paths in life and form society. In life people follow a certain path from places of activity to other places of activity. this path is formed constraints described above, these paths form a prism in which the paths of individuals follow a certain path (Van Wee, Dijst, 2002). This concept is therefore of key importance in every-day life.


Hägerstrand, T. (1970). What about People in Regional Science? Paper for the Ninth European Congress of the Regional Science Association.

Van Wee, B,. Dijst, M,. (2002). Verkeer en Vervoer in Hoofdlijnen. Bussem: Couthino


Created by: Jan-Peter Hoste s4026349 on the 16th September 2012

Enhanced by: Marleen Revenberg on the 10th October 2012 Enhanced by Mathijs Lammers

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