With the help of culture that man possesses, he can live almost anywhere on the planet. He can grow and produce different kinds of food, wear clothing’s of various types, construct houses, bridges and dams, create tools and implements which have different uses, kill beasts that are dangerous, destroy harmful insects with pesticides and so on.
Social ecologists have focused their attention on the community. The ecological factors can more easily and more productively be studied when the community is the unit of observation. Ecology studies community in relation to environment. Culture modifies the influence of natural environment, and as culture changes, communities change.
The Ecological Approach: The ecological approach to the study of communities had been used, so far, mainly by American sociologists. Park and Burgess were the pioneers in the study of human ecology. They and their student Mckenzie formulated its basic principles. They made it a field of study within sociology. Later this approach was very usefully employed by sociologists other than those of the “Chicago School”.
Sociologists who study communities from the ecological point of view consider a village, town or city sociological rather than a legal or an administrative unit. It need not confine itself to the boundaries set by law. “A community, from the ecological point of view, includes a focal area plus the surrounding territory.
Its size is determined by the extent of its economic and social influence”. This ecological conception is used by the sociologists in their study of the community. Even economists, social workers, businessmen, and social planning agencies make use of this approach.