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The Structure and Dynamics of Human EcosystemsToward a Model for Understanding and Action$
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William R Burch, Gary E Machlis, and Jo Ellen Force

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780300137033

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300137033.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM YALE SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Yale University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in YSO for personal use.date: 20 September 2021

The Roots of Human Ecology

The Roots of Human Ecology

(p.64) Five The Roots of Human Ecology
The Structure and Dynamics of Human Ecosystems

William R. Burch Jr.

Gary E. Machlis

Jo Ellen Force

Yale University Press

This chapter looks at how the roots of human ecology lie primarily in general ecology, sociology, geography, and anthropology, as documented by numerous literature reviews. The idea for the application of general ecological principles to human activity was sparked by sociologists at the University of Chicago in the 1920s and 1930s. Sociologists Robert E. Park and Ernest W. Burgess drew analogies between human and nonhuman communities, describing society’s symbiotic and competitive relationships as an organic web. Biological concepts such as competition, commensalism, succession, and equilibrium were freely borrowed, mirroring the biologists’ use of social science concepts. Borrowing from contemporary plant ecologists and their focus on plant community zones, early human ecologists moved from classrooms to city streets to map “natural areas” or zones of the urban metropolis.

Keywords:   human ecology, sociology, anthropology, geography, Robert E. Park, Ernest W. Burgess, competition, commensalism, plant ecologists

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