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Urie Bronfenbrenner (29 April 1917
– 25 September 2005) was an
psychologist—but born in the
Soviet Union—who is most known
for his ecological systems theory of child
development. Bronfenbrenner's research and his
theory was key in changing the perspective of
developmental psychology by calling attention to
the large number of environmental and societal
influences on child development.
Bronfenbrenner saw the process of human
development as being shaped by the
interaction between an individual and his or
During his time, he saw developmental
psychology as only studying individual
influences on development in unnatural
settings; in his own words, developmental
psychology was, "...the science of strange
behavior of children in strange situations
with strange adults for the briefest possible
periods of time."
His theory states that there are many
different levels of environmental
influences that can affect a child's
development, starting from people
and institutions immediately
surrounding the individual to nation-
wide cultural forces.
He eventually renamed his theory the
bio ecological model in order to
recognize the importance of
biological processes in development.
According to Melvin L. Kohn, a
sociologist from Johns Hopkins
University, Bronfenbrenner was
critical in making social scientists
realize that, "...interpersonal
relationships, even [at] the smallest
level of the parent-child
relationship, did not exist in a social
vacuum but were embedded in
the larger social structures of
community, society, economics
ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS THEORY
Ecological systems theory, also called
development in context or human ecology
theory, identifies five environmental systems
with which an individual interacts.
ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS THEORY
Refers to the institutions and groups that
most immediately and directly impact the
child's development including: family, school,
religious institutions, neighborhood, and peers.
Interconnections between the
microsystems, interactions between the family
and teachers, relationship between the child’s
peers and the family.
Involves links between a social setting in
which the individual does not have an active
role and the individual's immediate context.
Describes the culture in which individuals
The patterning of environmental events
and transitions over the life course, as well as