Ecological Systems Theory by Urie Bronfenbrenner

This is also known as Biological Systems Theory. This presents how a child’s development is affected by everything in his environment. It describes multipart layers of the environment that have an effect on the development of the child. He divided the person’s environment into 5 different levels:

a. Microsystem – the layer closest to the child and the one in which he has direct contact with. It includes one’s family, school, and neighborhood. This is the most influential level of the ecological systems theory.

     The relationship effects happen in two directions – away from the child and toward the child. This means the child is affected by people with whom he interacts and in turn these people are also affected by the child.

b. Mesosystem – consists of the interactions between the different parts of a person’s microsystem.

Example: The relationship between the parents and teachers, or the parents and health services or the community and church.

     This has a positive impact on the child’s development because the different elements of his microsystem are working together. The development could be affected in a negative way if the different elements of his microsystem were working against one another.

c. Exosystem – refers to a setting that does not involve the child as an active participant but still affects him. This includes decisions that have bearing on the child but in which he does not have participation in the decision-making process. This includes the government, the workplace and mass media.

Example: A child being affected by a parent receiving a promotion at work or losing his/her job

d. Macrosystem – this is the outer part in the child’s environment. This includes the cultural values, customs and laws as a child is growing up.

Example: In the western countries, most of the young people are expected to be independent by the time they end their teen-age years, while in Asian countries, parents are expected to support or at least want to support their children for a longer period of time. In China sons are more valuable than their daughters.

e. Chronosystem – this covers the element of time as it relates to his environment. This involves patterns of stability and change in the child’s life; whether his day is characterized by an orderly predictable pattern or whether he is subjected to a sudden change in routine. This can affect the child externally like timing of parental separation or even death. Effect can also be internal like in the bodily changes that occur within the developing child. 

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