One of the well known scholars in the field of developmental psychology, Urie
Bronfenbrenner has been the primary contributor to the ecological systems theory. The
ecological theory defines four types of systems which contain roles, norms and rules that
shape development. The systems include a microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and
macrosystem. The microsystem is the family, classroom, or systems in the immediate
environment in which a person is operating. The mesosystem is two Microsystems
interacting, such as the connection between a child’s home and school. The exosystem is
an environment in which an individual is indirectly involved and is external to his
experience, yet it affects him anyway i.e. a child’s parent’s workplace. The macrosystem
is the larger cultural context.
By creating these systems, Bronfenbrenner was the leader in introducing
researchers into examining the family, economy, and political structures as influencing
the development of a child into adulthood. This paper will attempt to better understand
the findings of Bronfenbrenner as it relates to child development, also look at
environmental influences on the whole child’s development and finally how it relates to
early education programs.
Various development theories place emphasis on the nature and nurture
interaction in the development of children. But Bronfenbrenner’s ecological system
theory looks at the child’s environment in terms of its quality and context. He states that
“as a child develops, the interaction within these environments becomes more complex.
This complexity can arise as the child’s physical and cognitive structures grow and
mature. So, given that nature continues on a given path, how does the world that
surrounds the child help or hinder continued development?”
The ecological model of Bronfenbrenner’s theory attempts to explain the
differences in individual’s knowledge, development and competencies...