Urie Bronfenbrenner developed the Ecological Systems
Theory to explain how influential inherent qualities and the environment are in
shaping human development. The bioecological model was evolved by
Bronfenbrenner’s original ecological theory and is a theoretical system for the
study of human development over time (Bronfenbrenner, U. and Morris, 2006). Bronfenbrenner’s
Bioecological Model is centred on the child as an active agent in their own
world, and the impact a change of surroundings has for a developing person
lives (Bronfenbrenner, 1989). The personality traits, age, temperament,
cognitive development, self-esteem etc. of the child influence and are
influenced by the other levels of the bioecological system. Bronfenbrenner
believed that the home background is a key factor in determining a child’s
success at school. Children from lower socio economic background benefitted more
by being in a class with children from higher socio economic backgrounds (Hayes,
N., O’Toole, L. and Halpenny, A. (2017). This highlights the importance of integration
in early year’s settings to best ensure an equal start across all social classes.
Bronfenbrenner organises the person’s environment into
five different levels in which an
individual interacts directly or indirectly: the micro-system, the mesosystem,
the exosystem, the macrosystem, and the chronosystem, each nested within the
others logical system.
Micro-System: The micro system is the most influential layer of
the nested systems. It has direct effect on an individual’s relationships,
interactions and immediate surroundings on a regular basis e.g. school and family.
Relationships in a microsystem are bi-directional and involve the most important relationships in a child’s life.
Mesosystem: The mesosystem is the level which takes account of
relations between two or more micro settings such as the individual’s family
and their school teachers/peers. Interactions between two aspects of the microsystem
must directly influence the development of the child in order to be considered
part of the mesosystem (Bronfenbrenner and Morris 1998). Bronfenbrenner
suggested that a strong relation between two settings (home and early childhood
setting) can enhance a child’s development. This emphasises the importance of having
an open, communicative relationship between educators and parents in order to
be on the same page in regards to behavioural expectations at home and at
Exosystem: The exosystem refers to a setting that does not
involve the developing person as an active participant but still affects the person
indirectly (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, p. 25). This is evident when a parent is
frustrated in the workplace and consequently comes home and vents their
frustration on their children.
Macrosystem: The fourth level of the ecological systems theory is
the macro-system. It consists of the wider pattern of ideology and organisation
of social and cultural environment in which the child lives (Bronfenbrenner,
1979, p. 25). Children’s development can be effected in either a positive or negative
way in the macro-system depending on the individual child’s social background.
Chronosystem: The chronosystem refers to the patterning of
environmental events and transitions that happens throughout a child’s life and
impact on the development of the person (Bronfenbrenner, 1995; Bronfenbrenner
and Morris, 2006). The chronosystem also considers the effect of
sociohistorical conditions in which a child develops. This system demonstrates
the influence of change and constancy in the child’s environment.