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Studying Human Ecology in Cities

May 19, 2009

Some sociologists study the connection between human populations and the physical environment in which these populations live. This area of study is called human ecology. Most studies of this type deal with urban sociology—they study cities. Cities can be defined as relatively small and specific areas where large numbers of people live in a nonagricultural mode of production. Some sociologists question the credibility, or how well a study’s results can be trusted, of social studies in cities because of the environment within a city.

Do large numbers of people living in a small area help spread illness?

Do large numbers of people living in a small area help spread illness?

Other social scientists contend that these problems are not caused by city living, but become more apparent in a city because so many people live in a comparatively small area. They argue that this is what makes the city such a fertile ground for sociological study. What do you think? Would you like to post a response to one of the topics below?

1. Some researchers argue that social problems are magnified when studying large numbers of people in small areas, such as a city. How could you use the current worry about a Swine Flu epidemic as an example to illustrate this point?

2. What social problems do you think a society might experience in a city? Are any of these only found in cities? Which ones? Why you think this is so?

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