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Park, Robert Ezra

Park, Robert Ezra (1864–1944) A leading member of the Chicago School, who introduced the work of Georg Simmel to a generation of American sociologists, mainly indirectly and via the widely used textbook Introduction to the Science of Sociology (1921) co-authored with Ernest W. Burgess. Park and Burgess were leading practitioners of (and coined the term) human ecology. Much of the theory of what came to be called ‘classical human ecology’ was stimulated by Park's writings and teaching at Chicago (see, for example, his definitive article on ‘Human Ecology’ in the American Journal of Sociology, 1936)
. Park argued that the basic process underlying social relationships was competition; however, because of human interdependence due to the division of labour, this competition always involves elements of unplanned co-operation (thus yielding ‘competitive cooperation’). In this way, people come to form symbiotic relationships, both at the spatial and cultural levels. These ideas are developed in the collection of essays (many by Park himself) on The City (1925) and his monograph on Human Communities (1952).

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