Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Theory of Development

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Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Theory of Development

Jermor Simmons
Capella University

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The development and growth of an individual is within the constraints of the social environment (Jordan 183). Bronfenbrenner's theory that development is influenced by experiences arising from broader social and cultural systems as well as a child's immediate surroundings. Ecological Systems Theory, also called "Development in Context" or "Human Ecology" theory, specifies four types of nested environmental systems, with bi-directional influences within and between the systems. The theory was developed by Urie Bronfenbrenner, generally regarded as one of the world's leading scholars in the field of developmental psychology (Bronfenbrenner 1979).

Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Theory of Development
The ecological theory is Bronfenbrenner's sociocultural view of development which focuses on the changing relations between individuals and the environments in which they live. It consists of five environmental systems ranging from the fine-grained inputs of direct interactions with social agents to the broad-based inputs of culture. The five systems in Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory are the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem.

The microsystem in ecological theory is the setting in which an individual lives (Bronfenbrenner 1979). This context includes the person's family, peers, school, neighborhood, etc is the immediate environment in which a person is operating. The settings within, which the individual directly interacts and with the most immediate and direct impact on a child's biological and psychological development. The key concept is the "direct contact" between the child and the niche. The mesosystem in ecological theory involves linkages between microsystems or connections between contexts, such as the connection between a child's home and school (Bronfenbrenner 1979). Examples include, parent-teacher conference, having friends come to one's home, or the family attending the school spring concert. The exosystem in ecological theory is involved when experiences in another social setting – in which the individual does not have an active role – influence what the individual experiences in an immediate context (Bronfenbrenner 1979). An example of an exosystem is the child's parent's workplace. Although a child may never have any role in the parent's workplace, or, in fact, never even go there, the events which occur at the child's place of employment do affect the child. For example, if the parent has a bad day at work, or is laid off, or promoted, or has to work overtime, all of these events impact the child. Also, government policies affecting schools, school board, Parks and Recreation Coordinator and friends of family. The macrosystem is the larger cultural context in ecological theory which involves the culture in which the individual lives. Also the availability of economic resources and opportunities is looked at. It is not known whether the way poverty affects socioemotional development of children varies by race, ethnicity or culture. It includes values and beliefs that influence the individual's life. Macrosystems include the developing person's society and subculture, which include the broader ideologies, belief systems, and institutional patterns or values of the culture. Examples include: laws, customs of the culture, economic and political systems, religion, ethnic group, socioeconomic status and American ideology. The chronosystem in ecological theory refers to changes within the individual and changes in the environment across time, as well as the relationship between the two processes. For example, if a divorce occurs in a child's family during the preschool period, it will have a different impact than...
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