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The political and social philosopher, anarchist, and environmentalist Murray Bookchin (1921–2006) developed the concept of social ecology in the 1960s as an interdisciplinary field drawing on philosophy, political and social theory, anthropology, history, economics, the natural sciences, and feminism. Social ecology as it is understood in the interdisciplinary or Bookchin sense differs substantially from the theoretical applications of social ecology (more widely known as human ecology) as developed in the field of sociology.

Human ecology developed in the first quarter of the 20th century as the study of individuals, groups, and their social environments using theoretical concepts and ideas from natural ecology. For example, mid-century human ecologists such as Amos Hawley applied ecological theories of succession and adaptation to analyze changing community populations, spatial distributions of ...

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