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Foundations of Human Ecology

William R. Catton, Jr.
Sociological Perspectives
Vol. 37, No. 1 (Spring, 1994), pp. 75-95
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
DOI: 10.2307/1389410
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1389410
Page Count: 21
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Foundations of Human Ecology
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Abstract

As with other sciences, ecology's conceptual foundations emerged long after its origin. Clarification of these foundations should enable human ecology to provide understanding of the fact that industrial civilization causes ecosystem breakdowns. Arthur Tansley's reasons for superseding the community concept and coining the term "ecosystem" need to be known. Sociologists have widely misunderstood the term. Their "ecological complex" is not synonymous with it. Tinkering with ensuing lists of variables can be highly misleading. Human ecology should be the study of whatever ecosystems involve humans. Until we put behind us the unnerving impact of inappropriate criticism, rejoin bioecology enough to get over thinking of succession as invader-driven, and recognize seral stages for what they are, sociologists will fail to comprehend the ineluctable difference between industrialism and ecological climax. Available literature can facilitate sociologists' necessary retooling.

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