26 Ecological Demography

  • Dudley L. PostonEmail author
  • W. Parker Frisbie
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


Ecology may be defined as the “study of the interrelationships of organisms with their environment and each other.” The term human ecology was first used in 1924 by Robert Park and Ernest Burgess in their Introduction to the Science of Sociology. However, Amos Hawley’s 1950 book, Human Ecology: A Theory of Community Structure, is the definitive exposition of the field, and sets out the subject matter of human ecology and its approach. In this chapter we review and discuss the four referential constructs of population, organization, environment, and technology, sometimes referred to as the POET complex. The unit of ecological analysis is the human population, circumscribed more or less in a territorial fashion. Since much of the empirical literature of human ecology in recent decades has focused on demographic applications, we then outline the focus of ecological demography, as an aggregate perspective for undertaking analyses of fertility, mortality and migration.


Ecology Human ecology Environment POET complex Population Organization Technology Sustenance organization 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department SociologyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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