Human ecology is ultimately part of a general theory of society. This is the argument developed here by Roy Ellen, whose exploration of the interplay between social organization and ecology in small-scale subsistence systems has direct bearings both on the investigation of human environmental relations in general and on contemporary social theory. He argues that while ecological study of non-industrial societies cannot be elevated to the status of theory, domain or discipline, it can be represented as a single 'problematic' that historically has acquired some degree of autonomy and which continues to make a significant contribution to a wider anthropology. Dr Ellen introduces his subject matter through an extended and systematic discussion of some major frameworks developed within the last hundred years to examine and explain facets of the relationship between culture, social organization and the environment: determinism, possibilism, cultural ecology, systems theory and ideas derived from modern biology. He follows this with a detailed review and appraisal of important recent research involving the use of ecological models, methods and data. This original and innovative study of the pre-eminently social character of human ecological relations will be of considerable interest to all students and researchers concerned with understanding the nature of the relationship between human beings and their environments.
Preface; Acknowledgements; 1. Environmental determinism and casual correlation; 2. Possibilism and limiting factors; 3. Cultural ecology and the explanatory imperative; 4. Human ecology and the biological model; 5. The flow of energy and materials; 6. Ecosystems and subsistence patterns I; 7. Ecosystems and subsistence patterns II; 8. Systems and their regulation; 9. Information and the manipulation of the environment; 10. Adaptation: a summary and reconsideration; 11. The reproduction and evolution of social and ecological systems; 12. Ecology in anthropological method and theory; Notes; Bibliography; Name Index; Subject Index.