Bronfenbrenner's Macrosystem: Definition & Examples

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

The ecological systems theory was introduced by Urie Bronfenbrenner in 1979. Learn more about the five layers of the ecological systems theory from examples and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Definition

The macrosystem is the cultural environment in which the child resides. The macrosystem is a part of the ecological systems theory.

Introduction to Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory

Urie Bronfenbrenner developed the ecological systems theory in 1979 in an attempt to explain the role the environment plays in childhood development. There are five environmental systems that affect how children develop. When a change in one of the five systems occurs, it has the potential to influence the other systems. The five systems are:

  • Microsystem
  • Mesosystem
  • Exosystem
  • Macrosystem
  • Chronosystem

Bronfenbrenner

If you look closely, you can see a child in the center of the image. Each circle that surrounds the child represents one of the five systems that influence the way the child develops.

The first circle depicted in green is the microsystem, which is the environmental system where the child's immediate interactions happen. The child's school and family are both microsystems.

The tan circle shows the mesosystem, which contains interactions between two microsystems. An example of a mesosystem is having your parents (family microsystem) chaperone a school field trip (school microsystem).

The information in the blue circle is the exosystem, which consists of the settings in the environment that have a significant influence on the child, although the child does not directly participate in the settings. An example of an exosystem is the death of a family friend.

The purple circle contains the macrosystem.

The white crescent shape outside of the circle contains the chronosystem, which consists of life transitions and events. This includes any sociohistorical events. An example of a chronosystem is the birth of a sibling when the child is five years old.

Bronfenbrenner's Macrosystem

The macrosystem is the fourth level of Bronfenbrenner's theory. Cultural values, health, and public policy and laws are all a part of the macrosystem. The culture's belief systems and ideology influence the child directly, even though the child does not have much freedom in determining his or her cultural values. For example, a child cannot determine the political norms of his or her culture, which are a part of the macrosystem.

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