PSY 201 Discussion Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory

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PSY 201 Discussion Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory

Describe Bronfenbrenner’s model of ecological development. Reflecting upon your own experiences, explain how your Microsystems, Exosystems, and Macrosystem affected your development.

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PSY 201 Discussion Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory

PSY 201 Discussion Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory

Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory views child development as a complex system of relationships affected by multiple levels of the surrounding environment, from immediate settings of family and school to broad cultural values, laws, and customs.
To study a child’s development then, we must look not only at the child and her immediate environment, but also at the interaction of the larger environment as well.
Bronfenbrenner divided the person’s environment into five different systems: the microsystem, the mesosystem, the exosystem, the macrosystem, and the chronosystemm.
The microsystem is the most influential level of the ecological systems theory. This is the most immediate environmental settings containing the developing child, such as family and school.
Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory has implications for educational practice.

American psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner was critical of previous theories of child development. He argued that studies of children in unfamiliar laboratory environments with one other person, usually a stranger, were ecologically invalid (See Mary Ainsworth’s 1970 experiment of the ‘

Strange Situation’).

Bronfenbrenner (1974) claimed most earlier studies were ‘unidirectional’, meaning that the laboratory studies observed the influence of A on B (e.g. a stranger/mother with a child), rather than looking at the possible influence of the child on the stranger/mother, or any other third party’s influence.

Bronfenbrenner maintained that these laboratory features of research are not characteristic of environments that children actually live and develop in.

Bronfenbrenner recognized there are multiple aspects of a developing child’s life that interacts with and affects the child. His work looked beyond individual development, taking into account wider influencing factors and the context (or ecology) of development. He proposed the ‘Ecological Systems Theory’ based on these dynamic interactions that the environments have on the developing child.

Bronfenbrenner’s (1974) perspective has some resemblance to the works of Albert Bandua’s social learning theory and Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory in which the environment is explicitly or implicitly considered as a crucial mechanism in development.

The Five Ecological Systems
Bronfenbrenner (1977) suggested that the environment of the child is a nested arrangement of structures, each contained within the next. He organized them in order of how much of an impact they have on a child.

He named these structures the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem and the chronosystem.

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