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Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Sociological Theory of Human Development

Categories Communication, Ecology, Sociological Theories

Essay, Pages 9 (2249 words)



Essay, Pages 9 (2249 words)

Human development is one of the most intriguing paradigms in all of science. Human development plays a principal role in the makeup of individuals that populate our nation. Urie Bronfenbrenner (1917-2005) was one of the most influential developmental psychologist, who was known for his groundbreaking contributions with the ecological theory of development. Conceivably, Bronfenbrenner’s levels of influence, the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem and the chronosystem helped shape my development and influenced my decision to enter graduate school, to obtain a master’s degree.

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Scientists refer to the elements of change and constancy over the life span as development. Development is defined as the orderly and sequential changes that occur with the passage of time as an organism moves from form conception to death. Human development over the life span is a process of becoming something different while remaining in some respects the same (Crandell, Crandell, & Vander Zanden, 2009, p.

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According to the article, Toward an Experimental Ecology of Human Development, The ecology of human development is the scientific study of the progressive, mutual accommodation, throughout the life span, between a growing human organism and the changing immediate environments in which it lives, as this process is affected by relations obtaining within and between these immediate settings, as well as the larger social contexts, both formal and informal, in which the settings are embedded, p.

514. Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory is similar in some way to the elements of change in reference to the environment.

Urie Bronfenbrenner proposes an ecological theory that centers on the relationship between the developing individual and the changing environmental systems (Crandell, Crandell, & Vander Zanden, 2009, p. 52). Bronfenbrenner developed five levels of influence, the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem and the chronosystem. The microsystem refers to the individual surroundings, the settings in which a person lives. The school a person attends, friends in which the person associates with and a person’s way of life at home, are all aspects of the microsystem and how one develops.

A microsystem is the complex of relations between the developing person and environmental in an immediate setting containing that person (e. g. , home, school, work place, etc. ) (Bronfenbrenner, Urie, 1977, p. 514). Indeed, this level of influence has shaped my development and influenced my decision to enter graduate school to obtain a master’s degree. The microsystem is very important in that it basically describes the how a person goes along in everyday life. As for myself, my parents, whether present or not, were very much involved in my school life.

My mom joined the Parent Teacher Association while I attended grammar school. She made sure that I was at or above grade level in all of my subject areas. At home my parents kept a watchful eye on the time that I spent watching television, and the programming that I watched. They also made sure that I engaged in educational activities, constantly making sure I stayed sharp academically. Perhaps, all of the hard work I put in, in reference to school paid great dividends for me. My parents’ working along side my teachers has contributed to my ability to succeed thus far in my academic career.

The mesosystem is yet another one of Bronfenbrenner’s levels of influence. The article Toward an Experimental Ecology of Human Development states “A mesosystem comprises the interrelations among major settings containing the developing person at a particular point in his or her life” (Bronfenbrenner, U. 1977, P. 515). Based upon my understanding of the mesosystem and my stage of development, the mesosystem would incorporate interactions among my family, my graduate career, and my profession. There is a constant battle for balance among all 3 aspects involved in the mesosystem.

Work in necessary for survival, school is vital to improving my overall quality of life and a good family structure is key to self-preservation, and healthy living. It is not easy to equally divide time between family school and work, and often times that becomes part of the stresses of every day life. Good family support and structure provides the understanding needed to move forward in the process. Without the support of family, my decision to pursue a master’s degree would have never been made and the journey would have seemed virtually insurmountable. Furthermore, The Ecological Models of Human Developmental article states hat “ The mesosystem comprises the linkages and processes taking place between two or more settings containing the developing person (e. g. , the relations between home and school, school and workplace, etc). In other words, a mesosystem is a system of microsystems” (Bronfenbrenner, U. 1993, p. 40). There is no question that I myself am experiencing such linkages at this point in my development. Graduate school and work is an excellent example of one of the linkages that Bronfenbrenner refers to. Like the great psychologist, I believe that every aspect of human development is some how connected to each other.

Bronfenbrenner’s exosystem level of influence refers to the outer-workings of influence, which have both a direct and indirect affect on human development. “An exosystem in an extension of the mesosystem embracing other specific social structures, both formal and informal, that do not themselves contain the developing person but impinge upon or encompass the immediate settings in which that person is found, and thereby influence, delimit, or even determine what goes on there. These structures include the major institutions of the society, both deliberately structured and spontaneously evolving, as they operate at a concrete local level.

They encompass, among other structures, the world of work, the neighborhood, the mass media, agencies of government (local, state, and national), the distribution of goods and services, communication and transportation facilities, and informal social networks” (Bronfenbrenner, U. 1997, p. 515). An excellent example of how the exosystem applies to me, shaped my development and influenced my decision to enter graduate school to obtain a master’s degree would be through the use of up and coming social networks.

My Space, Face Book and Twitter are all examples of social networks that provide an unconventional influence on my development and decision to pursue a professional degree. Friends, family and associates use these social networks to provide insight or advice on choices that are ultimately made. Not everyone’s advice is taken or even sought after, however; I personally have gotten some great feed back on my decision to go back to school, some of which made my decision a lot easier. Moreover, these social networks influence other forms of development like a person’s sense of style, even iet. I know my friends influenced my decision to change my diet because I expressed my desire to lose 40 pounds. I got all sorts of different diet plans and recommended exercises to do from friends. The government’s economic state is also influential in my development and my choice to further my education. For instance, because of the government’s economic state, I put great emphasis on going back to school. With the unemployment rates reaching all time highs, more education could very well be the difference between employment and non-employment.

Growing up the government’s economic state affected my development because it influenced my parent’s decision making in regards to things like the food I ate, and the clothes I wore. More often than not, my parents could not afford the “name brand” clothing so I had to settle for less. It would have been very easy for me to allow the lack of name brand clothing to negatively affect my self-esteem, but I chose to embrace, to understand my parent’s ideology and not put any value into any negative things that was said about me.

Another level of influence contributed to developmental psychology through Bronfenbrenner is what’s known as the macrosystem. According to Bronfenbrenner, the macrosystem consists of the overarching pattern of micro-meso, and exosystems characteristic of a given culture or subculture, with particular reference to the belief systems, bodies of knowledge, material resources, customs, life-styles, opportunity structures, hazards, and life course options that are embedded in each of these broader systems. The macrosystem may be thought of as a societal blueprint for a particular culture or subculture (Ecological Models of Human Development. 994, p. 40). The macrosystem is a combination of all of Bronfenbrenner’s levels of influence put together. My parents belief systems had a profound impact on my development from a child up until present day. It is because of my parent’s strong values, like moral integrity, honesty, accountability, humility, self-worth, faith, knowledge of history, and family, that I have become the person that I am today. Since my parents’ continued to endure, and overcome every challenge that they faced, I have the opportunities that I have today. Not to discuss religion, but faith has also been instrumental in my development.

As the daughter of Christian parents, the importance believing in GOD and living according to his will was instilled in me from a very early age. My father often told me “ through Christ all things are possible and without him nothing is possible. ” In addition to faith, knowledge of my history has definitely influenced my development. Knowing what my ancestors endured makes pursing a degree seem very easy. Learning about great leaders like Doctor King, Malcolm X, Ghandi, and Rosa Parks, help me put all of my challenges, worries, and short-comings into proper perspective.

Just knowing that many great leaders made the ultimate sacrifice so that I could become educated is motivation in itself. I know that by continuing my education, I am doing what so many sacrificed for me to be able to do. Obtaining my degree just shows my appreciation for the extraordinary leaders that paved the way for me. Ultimately, my strong value or belief system played a pivotal role in my decision to enter graduate school and obtain a master’s degree. Lastly, the chronosystem is the last system that Bronfenbrenner developed. This level of influence deals with a person’s experiences over time.

As I have said before, experience is more often than not the best teacher. Sometimes the only way to learn in life is through natural experiences as they happen. Time has had a great impact on my decision to further my education this year. I have decided to lean on my experiences over time realizing that the time to embark on the new challenge of obtaining a master’s degree is now. The chronosystem refers to changes within the individual and changes in the environment across time, as well as the relationship between the two processes (Crandell, Crandell, & Vander Zanden, 2009, p. 3). A final systems parameter extends the environment into a third dimension.

Traditionally in the study of human development, the passage of time was treated as synonymous with chronological age. Since the early 1970s, however, an increasing number of investigators have employed research designs in which time appears not merely as an attribute of the growing human being, but also as a property of the surrounding environment not only over the life course, but across historical time (Baltes and Schaie 1973, Clausen 1986, Elder 1974, Elder et al. 993). The chronosystem also helped shaped my level of development from a baby until present early adulthood. Depending on when changes take place in our lives will depend upon how we are affected by those changes. For example, during my early childhood, or preschool years, my uncle was in a very bad car accident that nearly cost him his life. At the time of this near disaster, I was to young to fully grasp the grave danger that my uncle was in.

As a result of my in ability to really understand what was happening around me, my uncle’s accident did not affect nearly as much as it did my mom and my grandmother. My adverse experiences trying to gain financial independence and security in my young adult life is also an example of how the chronosystem influences my development and my decision to go back to school. By continuing my education, I am putting myself in the position have an opportunity to gain financial independence and security.

Unfortunately, money makes the world go round, for nothing can be accomplished without it. Therefore, I have chosen to put myself in the position to be able to take care of all of my needs. Finally, It safe to say that the advances in the study of human development would not be possible without the tireless research and contributions of developmental psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner (1917-2005). Because of Bronfenbrenner’s work, there is an incomparable understanding of the ecological theory and human development in relation to how it affects each individual person.

Undoubtedly, his five levels of influence, the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem and the chronosystem are critical to understanding how humans develop from conception until death. After researching Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory of Development, my knowledge of the complex world of human development has increased. Certainly, Bronfenbrenner’s levels of influence have helped shape my development and influence my decision to enter graduate school to obtain a master’s degree.


  1. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1994) Ecological models of human development. In International Encyclopedia of Education, Vol. 3, 2nd. Ed. Oxford: Elsevier. Reprinted in: Gauvain, M. & Cole, M, (Eds.), Readings on the development of children, 2nd Ed. (1993, pp. 37-43). NY: Freeman.
  2. Bronfenbrenner, U. Toward an Experimental Ecology of Human Development. American Psychologist (1977, pp. 513-531).
  3. Crandell, T. L., Crandell, C. H., & Vander Zanden, J. W. (2009). Human Development (9th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Cite this essay

Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Sociological Theory of Human Development. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/bronfenbrenners-ecological-sociological-theory-of-human-development-essay

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