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Bronfenbrenner's Mesosystem: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:04 What is a Mesosystem?
  • 0:26 Ecological Systems Theory
  • 2:53 The Mesosystem
  • 5:00 Lesson Summary
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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.

Urie Bronfenbrenner is a Russian-American psychologist who first introduced the ecological systems theory. Learn about Urie Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory, the five environmental systems, and more.

What Is a Mesosystem?

Before we get into the details of Urie Bronfenbrenner's theories, we need to define the basic idea of the mesosystem. Simply put, the mesosystem contains the relationship between the microsystems. The mesosystem concept is a part of ecological systems theory.

Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory

Ecological systems theory was developed by Russian-American psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner in 1979. Bronfenbrenner believed that the way in which a child develops is not only influenced by his or her immediate environment, but also by things in the surrounding environment, such as culture and the government. Ecological systems theory is also referred to as bioecological systems theory due to Bronfenbrenner's emphasis on the role that a child's biology plays in their development.

According to Bronfenbrenner's theory, there are five environmental systems that influence a child's development. If there are changes or conflicts present in any single system, it can cause changes in the others. The systems are:

  • Microsystem
  • Mesosystem
  • Exosystem
  • Macrosystem
  • Chronosystem

Here you can see an illustration of Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory:

Ecological Systems Theory
Bronfenbrenners theory

You may notice that at the center of the illustration is a child. This illustration shows us the unique environmental variables that influence a child's development within each of the five environmental systems.

The green circle represents the microsystem, which is the child's immediate surroundings. Peers and schools are both a part of the microsystem.

The mesosystem is represented by the tan circle. This is the main topic of our lesson and will be discussed in more detail in a minute.

The exosystem is represented by the blue circle and contains the environmental settings that have an indirect but profound influence on the child. This includes the parent's work environment.

The macrosystem is represented by the purple circle and includes the cultural context that the child currently lives in. The cultural beliefs and customs are a part of the macrosystem.

The white crescent shape represents the chronosystem, which consists of the transitions over the life course and environmental events. An example would be growing up during the civil rights movement.

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