In geography, the notion of process integrates the idea of movement (from Latin pro-cedere: to go forward), of chain of actions or facts. Just as the idea of “dynamics”, with which it is sometimes confused, a process makes part of a temporal approach of diachronic type.
But in a process, the chain of facts is primarily of causal type and secondarily chronological. The succession of phenomena depends on an operative logic that allows integrating them into an interpretable framework. A process enables to understand the logics of production, of reproduction or of transformation of systems or spatial structures. It is an essential notion when it comes to understanding spatial change. Some of these logics allow to bring out processes of spatial diffusion, of spatial differentiation or also of polarisation.
Involving, in geography, social or natural agents with their constraints, but also, for the formers, with their intentions and their rationality, processes may not be assimilated to pure determinist mechanisms and may possibly change in the course of a sequence. To talk about processes in spatial analysis means that the principles that govern such or such spatio-temporal sequence have been identified.