The Bioecological Model of Human Development Essay

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The bioecological model in human development consists of four primary systems: macro systems, exosystems, microsystems, and mesosystems. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of these systems and examine their impact on a child’s development.

The text examines the distinctions among the four systems in the model and gives instances of their connections and interactions. These four systems are microsystems, mesosystems, exosystems, and macrosystems. The microsystems encompass various settings like family, school, peer group, neighborhoods, and childcare environments and are thoroughly examined.

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Mesosystems refer to the connections between immediate environments, such as a child’s home and school. Exosystems, on the other hand, are external environmental settings that indirectly affect development, like a parent’s workplace. Macrosystems encompass the larger cultural context, including the national economy, political culture, and subculture. For instance, family planning services and the affordability of contraceptives are examples of macrosystems that can impact teen pregnancy and birth rates.

Young women in their area are visiting planned parenthood to acquire birth control pills for the purpose of preventing teenage pregnancy. In this valley, there have been instances where girls as young as 11 years old have given birth. The exosystems layer encompasses a range of elements including extended family, family networks, mass media, workplaces, neighbors, family friends, community health systems, legal services, and social welfare services. Despite not having direct interaction with these systems, they still influence the child’s development and socialization similar to other systems.

The people in a child’s life, including parents, childcare providers, and neighbors, are affected by exosystems and mesosystems. Parents actively participate in their children’s education, such as monitoring homework and grades, and promptly scheduling parent-teacher conferences if any concerns arise. The ecological systems theory analyzes how a child’s development is influenced by the network of relationships that shape their environment.

Bronfenbrenner’s theory, called the bioecological systems theory, outlines different environmental layers that influence a child’s development. The theory emphasizes the role of a child’s biology in driving their development and highlights how factors in their biology, immediate family/community environment, and societal landscape interact. Any changes or conflicts in one layer will impact other layers. Thus, studying a child’s development requires considering not just the child and their immediate surroundings but also their interaction with the wider environment.

The graphic consists of various terms that are clickable links. These links lead to pages that explain the implications of these terms in Bronfenbrenner’s theory. Bronfenbrenner’s structure of environment, according to Berk (2000), includes the microsystem. The microsystem refers to the layer closest to the child, which contains the structures that the child directly interacts with. The microsystem encompasses the child’s immediate surroundings and the relationships and interactions within it (Berk, 2000).

“Structures in the microsystem include family, school, neighborhood, or childcare environments” (Berk, 2000). “At this level, relationships have a two-way impact – they affect the child and are affected by the child. For example, a child’s parents can shape their beliefs and behaviors while also being influenced by the child’s behavior and beliefs” (Berk, 2000).

Bronfenbrenner states that there are bi-directional influences between individuals and their environments, which can be found at all levels. The theory emphasizes the importance of interactions within and between different layers, with the microsystem level being where the strongest and most influential bi-directional influences are seen.

However, even though interactions at outer levels can still affect the inner structures, the mesosystem serves as a connection between the child’s microsystem structures. For instance, it encompasses connections such as those between the child’s teacher and their parents, and between their church and neighborhood, among others. On the other hand, the exosystem defines the larger social system in which the child is not directly involved.

According to Berk (2000), the structures within this layer have an impact on a child’s development by interacting with a structure within their microsystem. Examples of this could be the schedules of the parents’ workplace or community-based family resources. Although the child may not directly participate at this level, they still experience the positive or negative effects resulting from interactions with their own system. The macrosystem, which can be seen as the outermost layer in the child’s environment, is also influential.

According to Berk (2000), the cultural layer of a society consists of its values, customs, and laws, but it is not a specific framework. The macrosystem, which encompasses broader principles, has a ripple effect on all other layers. For instance, if a culture believes in the sole responsibility of parents in raising their children, they are less likely to provide support resources for parents. As a result, the functioning of parental structures is also impacted.

The parents’ ability or inability to fulfill their responsibility towards their child within the child’s microsystem is also influenced. According to Bronfenbrenner, the exosystem refers to one or more settings where the developing person is not actively participating, but events in these settings impact or are impacted by what occurs in the setting where the developing person is present (1979:25). This concept has also shaped research on child care. For instance, the mother’s work environment, such as her schedule and working conditions, can have implications for the child’s development even if the child is not typically taken care of at the mother’s workplace (Hoffman and Youngblade, 1999).

The conceptualization of the exosystem is reflected in these effects. The front line of care, which includes interdependent individuals, information, and technology, works together to achieve a specific goal. Examples of this front line of care include an ambulatory pediatric clinic, a labor and delivery room, and an inpatient unit.

“The mesosystem serves as the catalyst for change, providing the necessary resources, strategies, and monitoring mechanisms. It facilitates the collaboration of various microsystems, overcoming obstacles that hinder quality patient care, such as inadequate information systems or a lack of recognition of interdependence between stakeholders. On the other hand, the macrosystem establishes a vision and goals for the micro and mesosystems by offering a supportive environment and leadership for transformative efforts. The macrosystem also promotes professional development strategies and aligns incentives to drive change.”

According to Nelson et al. (2007), they serve as a natural measure of responsibility for the well-being results of a group. The ecological model emphasizes that each element interacts with others, creating a significantly intricate environment for a child’s development. Additionally, it highlights that a child is not merely an inactive observer of their surroundings.

The child in Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model has direct interactions with individuals in the microsystems and these interactions have reciprocal effects. The child impacts the individuals just as they impact the child. Additionally, it is important to note that everything in this model is constantly evolving. Therefore, the child, systems, and environments all undergo continuous changes.

According to the Ecological Theory of Human Development, milestones and life events happen as time goes on, the child grows, and the contexts shift. This theory, developed by Urie Bronfenbrenner, utilizes various relationships and surroundings to explain a person’s development. It is divided into different layers of the child’s environment: the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem.

The theory emphasizes the interactions of structures within and between layers (Paquette; Ryan, 2001). It acknowledges that both close relationships and external factors strongly influence a child’s development. Bronfenbrenner categorizes the mesosystem as the connection between microsystem structures (Berk, 2007, p. 24). The child’s environment serves as a link between the child and their immediate surroundings.

An example of the mesosystem is the fact that a child’s education and learning is influenced by both teachers and parents. Parents share a responsibility to assist the child with their education, as learning and knowledge should also be brought into the home (Berk, 2007, p. 24). The relationship between adults as spouses and parents is greatly influenced by their workplace dynamics.

The exosystem, as described by Bronfenbrenner, is composed of social settings that impact experiences in immediate settings without directly including the developing person (Berk, 2007, p. 25). It serves as the outer layer surrounding the mesosystem and microsystem. Exosystems can provide support in formal and informal environments.

The formal environments that support parents and guardians include organizations like child welfare services and the workplace of the adult. For instance, an adult’s workplace that provides benefits like paid maternity leave, flexible work schedules, and sick leave can greatly assist parents in taking care of their children, especially when they are sick. This support indirectly promotes the development of both adults and children (Berk, 2007, p.).

According to Berk (2007, p. 25), children are influenced by their parents’ social networks in the informal part of the exosystem. This includes friends and extended family. Research confirms that parents and guardians without employment or a support system are more likely to experience conflict and engage in child abuse (Berk, 2007, p.).

25). The Macrosystem is the external layer of Bronfenbrenner’s structure. Instead of focusing on a specific subject, this level encompasses a range of influences such as laws, customs, resources, and cultural values. These influences are present in the environment.

Within the exosystem, mesosystem, and microsystem levels, the support of the macrosystem has an impact on various individuals (such as children and parents). Consequently, the macrosystem affects all three levels. For instance, if a child is born into a devout Christian family, they will be greatly influenced by their parents (mesosystem), who have been influenced by their own parents (exosystem), who have in turn been influenced by the Christian values and traditions that have been passed down through generations within the family (macrosystem).

According to Berk (2007, p. 25), this illustrates the macrosystem’s ability to indirectly impact the child in a significant manner. Additionally, Bronfenbrenner asserts that the ecological system is a dynamic system that continually evolves.

The size of an individual’s microsystem changes whenever they acquire or release life roles or environments. These changes are crucial for a child’s growth and can occur when starting school, getting married, beginning a first job, having children, moving house/countries, getting divorced, or retiring. This phenomenon is known as the chronosystem (chrono meaning ‘time’).

Both external environments and internal factors can lead to changes in life. People have the power to make choices, bring about change, and shape their own surroundings and knowledge. This process is impacted by an individual’s age, environment, behavior, as well as their physical and cognitive traits. The ecological systems theory suggests that a person’s development is not solely dependent on external circumstances or personal characteristics.

According to Berk (2007, p. 25), people and their surroundings are both products and creators of their own environments. This suggests that both individuals and their surroundings are interdependent and influence each other.

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