Analysis of Bronfenbrenner Theory

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Analysis of Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Theory of Development

Before I began to write this paper I wanted to know the definition of child development. It means “Child development refers to the biological and psychological changes that occur in human beings between birth and the end of adolescence, as the individual progresses from dependency to increasing autonomy. Because these developmental changes may be strongly influenced by genetic factors and events during prenatal life, genetics and prenatal development are usually included as part of the study of child development. Related terms include developmental psychology, referring to development throughout the lifespan, and pediatrics, the branch of medicine relating to the care of children. Developmental change may occur as a result of genetically-controlled processes known as maturation, or as a result of environmental factors and learning, but most commonly involves an interaction between the two.” (Wikipedia)

"Bronfenbrenner (1979, pg.27) states "Development never takes place in a vacuum, it is always embedded and expressed through behavior in a particular environment." In proposing the ecological model as a research tool, Bronfenbrenner wants to move away from the traditional focus that sees either the environment of the person instead of the relationship between them as the most important aspect of development. Furthermore he wants to focus on the process of development rather than concentrate on isolated variables at a single point in time." (Crandell, Crandell, & Vander Zanden, 2009)

“Bronfenbrenner was one of the first psychologists to adopt a holistic perspective on human development, developing his Ecological Systems Theory which had a widespread influence on the way psychologists and other social scientists approach the study of human beings and their environments. Bronfenbrenner emphasized the importance of the social environments in which children are raised, and saw the breakdown of the family as leading to the ever growing rates of alienation, apathy, rebellion, delinquency, and violence among American youth. His work led to new directions in research and in the design of programs and policies affecting the well-being of children and families.” (

“Each system contains roles, norms, and rules that can powerfully shape development. According to the ecological theory, if the relationships in the immediate microsystem break down, the child will not have the tools to explore other parts of his environment. Children looking for the affirmations that should be present in the child/parent (or child/other important adult) relationship look for attention in inappropriate places. These deficiencies show themselves especially in adolescence as anti-social behavior, lack of self-discipline, and inability to provide self-direction.

The major statement of this theory, The Ecology of Human Development (1979), has had widespread influence on the way psychologists and other social scientists approach the study of human beings and their environments. It has been said that before Bronfenbrenner, child psychologists studied the child, sociologists examined the family, anthropologists the society, economists the economic framework of the times, and political scientists the political structure.

As a result of Bronfenbrenner's groundbreaking work in "human ecology," these environments, from the family to economic and political structures, have come to be viewed as part of the life course from childhood through adulthood. The "bioecological" approach to human development broke down barriers among the social sciences, and built bridges between the disciplines that have allowed findings to emerge about which key elements in the larger social structure, and across societies, are vital for optimal human development.” (

His theoretical model transformed the way many social and behavioral...
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