researches in human and social sciences play an important
role in the planning and preparation of sustainable development
policies. Their results provide better knowledge about
the relationships between different human groups and their
results report the needs and aspirations of each studied
community which promotes community participation
an essential factor in the success of developmental projects.
one of the disciplines that are part of this type of research,
according to the EICOS Program approach.
order to understand what we call social ecology, one should
know that this is an area of research and knowledge which
emerged along the last decades and was basically influenced
by human ecology, social psychology, sociology and anthropology.
broad terms, it can be said that social ecology is the study
of the interaction of human groups with their environment. This
interaction is a determinant in the groups identity and
in their actions within the environment. Therefore, it is important
to study human communities, populations and settlements taking
into consideration the cultural dimension as the organizer of
the groups dynamics. This dynamic is in fact composed
by aspects such as social organization, mobility, cultural manifestations
(religion, art) and their relationships with the environments
specific characteristics. We therefore emphasize the cultural
dimension of social ecology studies, as opposed to human ecology,
regardless of their common origin.
should note that both subjects are based on a series of studies
conducted during the 20s, where the studied object is
placed at the interface between nature and society, in respect
to human societies and their behavior in the environment.
this period, a group of sociologists founded the Chicago School
in the USA, to pursue studies on urban sociology which would
eventually reconcile ecology and sociology. This reconciliation
is marked by the transposition of ecological concepts to sociology.
The Chicago group inaugurated a new methodology for sociological
research which considers the city as mans natural habitat.
This consideration becomes particularly relevant within the
economical and social context of that time. The growing industrialization
of the period made Chicago an excellent research laboratory
for the subject of mans social organization and relationships
in an artificial environment built by man, therefore a product
of human culture. Researches produced by this American group
strongly influenced the following generations for at least 40
years. However, the studies on human ecology were marked by
a discussion between biologists and culturalists. This discussion
was based on an important criticism about the use of ecological
concepts in human ecology papers. We should note that when the
group under study is a human group, culture produces differentiation.
To use vocabulary from a natural science, like ecology, in a
human science, may lead to an impoverishment of results and
a distortion of the original meaning of the words. According
on the one hand man constitutes a biological species which produces
culture, and on the other hand, man transforms the natural environment
in order to satisfy biological and social needs.
controversy has given birth to several branches of human ecology
studies, grouped by their theoretical tendencies. We could say
that social ecology is one of these branches, which postulates
that the environment is both the product of human activities
and a transforming agent for these activities.
developed according to a socio-ecological approach constitute
both theoretical support and means to achieve results in sustainability.
They also seek to point out tendencies and know-how capable
of supporting sustainable development initiatives which have
human behavior as their focus.
the concerns of a social ecology which intends to integrate
man and environment lies a proposal for an education
which will respect endogenous development and local
culture. These aspects should be perceived as continually
changing processes, characteristic of cultural dynamic
T. M. B. Contribuições da ecologia humana
para a psicologia social moderna: perspectivas para
uma ecologia social. Arquivos Brasileiros de Psicologia,
n. 8. Rio de Janeiro: out/dez, 1998
1) "Area of research and
knowledge which emerged along the last decades and was basically
influenced by human ecology, social psychology , sociology and
P. História da ecologia. Rio de Janeiro, Campus, 1990."