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The sociological versions of ecological theory connect social entities with their environments. While most modern applications of ecological theory have been studies of populations of business firms, there is a recent trend toward applications in sociology more broadly conceived. The two fundamental processes in ecological theory are adaptation and selection. Adaptation is the process by which a social entity changes in order to survive optimally within a given environment. Selection is the process through which entities that are less fit (i.e., less adapted to a set of environmental conditions) survive at lower rates than entities that are more fit, and therefore become less prevalent in the population.

At the population level, adaptation and selection are logically related. Adaptation at one level is typically created by selection ...

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