Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory is one of the most accepted explanations for the influence of the social environment on people's development. This hypothesis holds thatthe environment in which we grow affects all the plans of our life.Our way of thinking, the emotions we feel or our tastes and preferences would be determined by different social factors.
From its creation,Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory served as a basis for studies in a wide range of disciplines.For example, developmental psychology and sociology have been directly nourished by these ideas. It was first presented in 1979, in a piece entitledThe ecology of human development.In this article, we will see more in depth what it is and what are its most important points.
Explanation of the ecological theory of Bronfenbrenner
Bronfenbrenner, the creator of this theory, observed thatthe way of being of children changed according to the environment in which they grew up.He therefore decided to study the elements that most conditioned infant development. The psychologist understood the environment as a set of interrelated systems. At first, he identified four, and later, he included a fifth.
The five systemsare interconnected.In this way, the influence of one of these systems on the development of the child depends on his relationship with others. Moreover, they are ordered following a close relationship with the child.
A change of environment can have an influence on the person. It is therefore normal that the way of being of someone who changes culture is changed. The same thing can happen when someone changes their social role in one of the systems. From the closest to the person to the farthest, the five systems of Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory are:
Let's see how each of these systems is defined.
The microsystem is formedgroups that have direct contact with the child.While there may be many opportunities, some of the most important are family and school. The relationship between this system and the development of the child is obvious but occurs in both directions.
Thus, the parents' beliefs directly affect the way of being of the child. However,this one is also able to modify the perspectives of the members of his family.The same thing happens with the school and with the rest of the groups that are part of the microsystem.
The second system described by the ecological theory of Bronfenbrenneris made up of the relations existing between those of the first level.In this way, the relationship of parents with teachers, for example, will have a direct impact on the child.
The third level is related to elements that affect the life of the child. However,he has no direct relationship with them.The influence on the development of the person therefore occurs indirectly.
An example of an ecosystem would be, for example, the company in which the child's relatives work. It would affect the way of thinking, the free time or the well-being of the parents. Therefore, thiswould also have a significant impact on the person's life.
The last of the four systems originally described by Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory is the macrosystem. It's made ofthese elements of the culture in which the person is immersed. They would affect everyone else. For example, the values of this culture or the existence of an official religion.
In this case, the influence would occur becausethese elements determine how other systems can express themselves.It would not happen directly but change the rest of the groups that affect the life of the person.
This latter system is included in later versions of the theory. It refersat the time of the person's life,in connection with the situations she is experiencing little by little. For example, the death of a loved one can be interpreted in different ways depending on age.
The ecological theory of Bronfenbrenner is not perfect but it applies in many disciplines. Even if it does not take into account biological factors,it is one of the best explanations that exist about how different social groups affect a person's life.