Urie Bronfenbrenner

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Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory of Development

Monica T. reaves
Survey of Research in Human Development and Behavior
Dr. Fabio D’ Angelo
October 27, 2012

Urie Bronfenbrenner, a well-known scholar in the field of development psychology, formulated the Human Ecology Theory. The Ecological System Theory states that human development is influenced by the different types of environments throughout our lifespan that may influence our behavior in various degrees. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theories consist of five environmental systems that range from close interpersonal interactions to broad-based influences of cultural. There are four different systems which define the ecological theory. The systems include microsystem, mesostem, exosystem, and macrosystem (Santrock, 2008). By Urie Bronfenbrenner creating these different systems, he wanted to show that family, economy, and political structures make up the development of a child into adulthood. In this paper I will attempt to cover the theories of Bronfenbrenner as it relates to child development, while looking at environmental influences. Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory of Development

One cannot grasp human development by simply observation and measuring individuals’ behavior in clinical settings that are separate from their relevant social, physical, and cultural environments (Crandell & Crandell, Vander Zanden, 2012). Urie Bronfenbrebber (1917-2005), had a major influence in the development of human development. Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological model is among the most cited and frequently taught in human development. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological system, first introduced in the 1970s (Bronfenbrenner’s 1974, 1976, 1977, 1979), represented a reaction to the restricted scope of most research then being conducted by development psychologist. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological system theory looks at the child’s environment in terms of its quality and context. The ecological model explains the difference in an individual’s knowledge, development, and competences through the support, guidance and structure of the society in which they live. Bronfenbrenner and Crouter (1983) distinguished a series of systems for investigating the impact of environment on development. The first model pertains to the structure of the external systems that affect the family and the manner in which they exert their influence. The second dimension relates to the degree of explicitness and differentiation according to interfamilial process that are influenced by external environment (Ecology of the Family as a Context for Human Development: Research Perspectives, Developmental Psychology, 1986, Vol.22, No.6, pg. 723-742). According to Bronfenbrenner, the interactions between numbers of overlapping ecosystems affect a person significantly. Moving from the innermost level to the outside, these structures are defined as described below. 1. Microsystem

The microsystem refers to the environment in our daily lives. Examples include such settings as family, school, peer, group, and workplace (Santrock, 2008). It is within the immediate environment of the microsystem that operates to produce and sustain development. Mentors can play an important role in improving some student’s learning. When guidance is accomplished through demonstration, instruction, challenge, and encouragement on a more or regular basis over an extended period of time. In addition, the young person’s relationship to the mentor takes on an emotional character of respect, loyalty, and identification (Hamilton, 2004, p. 396, based on a personal communication with ecological theorist Urie Bronfenbrenne). According to Bronfenbrenner, the interactions between a number of ecosystems affect a person significantly. As two microsystems begin to work together i.e. teacher and parent working together to educate a child happens through the mesosystem. 2. Mesosystem

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