The Ecological Complex
The ecological complex encompasses the ecological organization whereby man is taken to live in intricate functional relationships. The ecological complex is made of four main elements including population, organization, environment and technology usually referred to as POET (Micklin & Ponston, 1998). Each of the four systems is made of a basic unit which can be categorized structurally.
The basic unit of a population is the individual who is an important feature in the ecological complex. Individuals aggregate into structural categories constituting the community, a region, and on a wider perspective, a nation is formed. Even within the aggregates of individuals, it is possible to define the community, region or nation in terms of size, distribution and composition. For instance, one would describe a certain community as being populous or a nation being predominantly made of young people. The population can also be seen to change in terms of fertility, mortality and migration (Micklin & Ponston, 1998).
An organization is made of activity as the basic unit and the activities can be said to be categorized as an operating unit. Some examples of operating units in an organization include household, firm and industry in terms of complexity. The operating units are meant to be involved in both production and consumption of goods and services. It is notable that different operating units are different as per the population or even within a single population over time. Additionally, operating units in a population may constitute a section of an environment in a certain population (Micklin & Ponston, 1998). Most important however is that activities can be grouped singly (e.g. occupations) or grouped in a manner whereby related activities are put together (e.g. households or industries).
The environment is made of two basic units namely site and situational factors. Site factors include physical elements affecting a population such as air, plant and animal life as well as other physical resources that humans depend on. It is therefore clear that such resources are either renewable or non renewable. These resources also differ in terms of numbers, composition and distribution in any population. Resources are discovered, explored and exhausted which is synonymous to birth, reproduction and death in a population. Situational factors in an environment on the other hand include technology and the organization. Situational factors also change just like the population changes from potential to effective and finally to a reference population (Micklin & Ponston, 1998).
When considering technology, only that technology that is being practically utilized by a population is considered and a tool makes the basic unit of a technology. A monetary unit is a classic example of a tool. The tools used by a population differ in terms of number, types and spatial distribution. Thus tools are invented (including finding new uses and efficiency) and upon use they become obsolete. Just as a population migrates, tools can diffuse and be adopted spatially and in terms of application (Micklin & Ponston, 1998). This results to differences in availability and distribution of the technology.
Notable is that although the ecological complex is powerful in sensitization, parsimonious, interdependent and has multidimensional influence; it is limited in its ability to guide theoretical-based empirical research. This is because its conceptualization is primitive especially for macrosociological issues (Micklin & Ponston, 1998).
Micklin, M. and Poston, D. L. (1998). Continuities in sociological human ecology. ISBN 0306456109: Springer.