Sociology Index



Ecological Studies was developed by criminologists in the early part of the twentieth century. Ecological Studies or ecological research looks at the relationships of various areas of a community to each other and the ways in which particular forms of behavior may flourish in some communities and not in others. Ecological studies of risk-modifying factors on health or other outcomes based on populations have often found links between risk-modifying factors and health outcomes well in advance. Relationships at the ecological level do not necessarily hold at the level of the individual, leading to the so-called ecological fallacy. Despite several practical advantages of ecologic studies, there are many methodologic problems that severely limit causal inference, including ecologic and cross-level bias, problems of confounder control, within-group misclassification, lack of adequate data, temporal ambiguity, collinearity, and migration across groups. Multi-country ecological studies of cancer incidence and mortality rates with respect to national diets have shown that some dietary factors such as animal products, added sweeteners, and some fats appear to be risk factors for many types of cancer, while cereals/grains and vegetable products as a whole appear to be risk reduction factors for many types of cancers. - Grant WB.

Ecological study of social fragmentation, poverty, and suicide
Elise Whitley, David Gunnell, Daniel Dorling and George Davey Smith - BM Journal 1999 Oct.
It is important to recognise the limitations of ecological studies. Although socially fragmented areas have higher suicide rates, the people who commit suicide may not share the characteristics of the populations from which they are drawn.

The Concept of 'Ecological Complex': A Critique - By Sidney M. Willhelm. American Journal of Economics and Sociology. Abstract: This paper presents certain distinct and fundamental short comings contained in ecological studies explanations that rely upon physical variables.

Statistical Issues in the Analysis of Ecological Studies, in May 2003, Imperial College, London.
Abstract: Ecological studies are studies in which data are available for groups only, rather than for the individuals within them. Unfortunately the analysis and interpretation of such data is not straightforward since relationships at the ecological level do not necessarily hold at the level of the individual. Individual-level problems such as controlling for confounders and effect modification become more complicated in ecological studies, and within-area variation can result in bias exclusive to ecological designs. Presents a framework within which ecological studies may be considered.

Impaired Competence in an Urban Community - An Ecological Study Analysis 
Edgar W. Butler, Department of Sociology University of California, Riverside.
Tzuen-Jen Lei, Neuropsychiatric Institute University of California, Los Angeles.
Ronald J. McAllister, Department of Sociology Northeastern University Urban Affairs Review, Vol. 13, No. 4.
This ecological research has demonstrated that some factors external to the individual are related to mental disorders. Ecological studies of other types of impairments are virtually nonexistent. Ecological analysis of intellectual, behavioral, and physical impairments in an urban complex.

The Social Side of Schooling: Ecological Studies of Classrooms and Schools. 
Authors: Hamilton, Stephen F. 
Abstract: This paper discusses findings of ecological studies of classroom learning drawn from the fields of anthropology, sociology, and ecological psychology. Ideally, ecological research considers both immediate and extended settings and relationships in its analysis. The studies are discussed in terms of socialization in the school, socialization and academic learning, the social patterns that perpetuate inequality, and studies of school change.

Bursik, Jr., Robert J. 1984. “Urban Dynamics and Ecological Studies of Delinquency.” Social Forces, 63(2): 393-413.

Century-Old Ecological Studies in France - M. C. Elmer, The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 39, No. 1 (Jul., 1933) - Abstract: M. de Guerry de Champneuf made some interesting studies relating to the statistical distribution of crime, suicide, and other social phenomena.