Examples of Typology: Definition and Use Across Different Disciplines

What is typology? The term typology refers to studying, examining, classifying, or analyzing things or concepts according to different types or categories. Typology can be used across all industries and disciplines. A few examples of fields in which typology is used include theology, anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, psychology, politics, education, medicine, farming, and many others.

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Typology Meaning: Understanding the Concept

Before reviewing typology examples, it's important to really understand the definition of typology. Understanding what typology is will make it easier to understand how certain examples illustrate the concept. A typology is simply a means of classifying items, people or concepts by general type. The word typology is simply a scientific term for grouping things together based on similarities.

  • Typology is most often used to classify people, things or ideas into categories based on commonalities that they share.
  • Using typology helps researchers and others better understand certain conditions or factors by grouping things with similar characteristics together.
  • Typology is also beneficial in everyday life. Categorizing similar things together provides a framework for processing, organizing and understanding information.

Examples of Typology in Many Fields

Since typology can be used in every field or industry, it's not surprising that there are many different typology examples. Some typologies are usually used by academic or professional researchers, but many others are used by ordinary people practicing their chosen profession or even in everyday life.

Anthropological Typologies

Typologies are very important to the field of anthropology. Anthropologists often classify civilizations and other groups of people by culture, beliefs or practices. They also use various traits to classify artifacts.

  • sociopolitical typology - Anthropologist Elman Service proposed a sociopolitical typology in 1962. Service's typology grouped political organizations into four different categories based on their structure and perspective. The categories associated with this typology are band, tribe chiefdom and state.
  • anthropological fields - The field of anthropology can be viewed in the context of typology, as it is classified by specific areas of study. A typology of the field of study includes numerous categories like applied, archaeological, biological, cultural, forensic, and linguistic anthropology.
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Examples of Language Typologies

The evolution and nuances of language can be better understood when similar languages with common traits are grouped together. Grouping languages by typology makes comparisons more manageable than if one broadly attempted to compare and contrast all languages simultaneously.

  • linguistic typology - Linguistic typology is a specific branch of linguistics that focuses on categorizing languages into structural similarities. This approach to grouping languages considers commonalities like word order, grammatical structure and phonological factors like consonants, vowels and syllable stress.
  • morphological typology - Created by Friedrich and August von Schlegel, the morphological methodology is a particular linguistic typology that involves classifying languages based on the combination and style of morphemes within the language. The main two categories are analytic and synthetic languages.

Biological Typology Examples

Typologies are used to group living things for the purpose of biological study, as well as to make it easy for people to understand relationships and associations that exist among plants and animals that share traits in common.

  • typology of living things - The system used to classify living things is a taxonomic classification system that groups life forms into categories based on common characteristics. This typology goes from broad to specific, starting with domain, then moving to kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species.
  • typology of vegetables - There are four primary vegetable families into which veggies can be classified. They are nightshades (peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes), brassicas (cabbage, mustard, kale, broccoli, cauliflower), legumes (peas, beans), and cucurbits (cucumbers, squash, melons).
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Typologies Explaining Economic Factors

Typologies are commonly used in the world of economics. Certain geographic areas and industries can be classified based on how certain factors impact their economic success, as well as by the impact they have on the economy.

  • farm structure typology - The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) classifies farms by grouping them into a typology of four broad groups: small family farms, midsize family farms, large-scale family farms, and nonfamily farms. There are subcategories within a few of these groups.
  • economic dependence typology - The USDA classifies all U.S. counties into a typology of categories based on industries that people in the area are dependent on in order to earn a living. There are seven categories in this typology: farming, government (federal or state), manufacturing, mining, recreation, and non-specialized.

Typology in Architecture

In architecture, typology involves using traits of buildings or spaces in order to classify them, as well as how architectural work is performed.

  • taxonomy of architectural concepts - Architectural concepts can be grouped typology in the form of a taxonomy. Such a taxonomy can begin with an architectural concept, then can narrow to a cultural concept, mental concept, spatial concept, planning concept, and a design concept.
  • typology in landscape architecture - There are several ways landscape architecture can be classified. One taxonomy includes seven groupings: cultivated expression, design as synthesis, ecological design, landscape analysis, plural design, spiritual landscapes, and synthesis.
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Examples of Typology in Art

There are a number of typologies in the field of art, as works of art and artistic styles can be grouped or classified in many different ways. Any way that works of art can be grouped together based on similar characteristics represents a typology.

  • photographic typology - Photographers can create their own photographic typology by shooting a collection of images with common traits, such as a similar structure or subject matter. For example, Ansel Adams is known for his collection of National Park photographs. This is one typology within his body of work.
  • artistic periods - Artistic style and media have changed a lot over time, which is why works of art are often classified by period. A typology of art history might include Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, Romantic, Realistic, and Modern.

Typology in Religion

There are numerous examples of typology associated with religious texts such as the Holy Bible, as well as in various religions of the world. The way a person approaches religion can also be expressed as a typology.

  • religious belief typologies - There are many ways to classify religious beliefs into typologies. For example, some religions are monotheistic (belief in one God) while others are polytheistic (belief in multiple gods). There are also many different denominations, each of which can be considered part of a typology.
  • updated religious typology - The Pew Research Center recently posited a new seven-part typology that groups people into types based on how religion impacts their lives. Their types are: Sunday Stalwarts, God-and Country Believers, Diversely Devout, Relaxed Religious, Spiritually Awake, Solidly Secular, and Religion Resisters.
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Making Sense of Typology

Understanding typology is important if you wish to conduct academic research or applied research. It's also beneficial if you wish to use different systems of classification in order to understand how things relate to each other. To get a sense of how typology comes up in many fields of study, consider various natural ecosystem examples. Each category is a typology. Any time you group things together, such as organizing words into different parts of speech, you're using a typology.