Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.
Introduction to Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory
The microsystem is a child's immediate surroundings. The idea of the microsystem is a part of the ecological systems theory, which says that a child's development is best understood by examining the context of the child's environmental influences. Developmental psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner created this theory, also referred to as the bioecological systems theory, in 1979.
A child's immediate environment has a direct influence on the child's development. This includes the influence of family and peers. There are also indirect environmental influences, such as the culture in which the child lives, that influence how a child develops. A child's own biology also plays a role in the child's development. It is the interaction between these different environmental factors that determines how a child will develop.
According to the ecological systems theory, there are five different environmental systems. Changes or problems in any one of the systems can cause changes in the others. The five environmental systems are microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem. This picture explains each of the five systems. At the center of the circle is a child who is influenced by each of the five levels on a daily basis. The microsystem is represented by the green circle. It includes both family and peers.
The tan circle represents the mesosytem, which is the relationship between the different microsystems. The blue circle represents the exosystem, which are the environmental settings that indirectly affect the child. Neighbors and social services are examples of things in the environment that do not directly interact with the child, but nonetheless have an important influence on the child's development.
The purple circle represents the macrosystem, which is the culture that the child lives in. Beliefs, customs, and the government are all parts of the macrosystem. The chronosystem is made up of the environmental events and transitions over the life course. An example would be a child's parents divorcing when the child is three years old.
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The institutions and settings in which a child personally interacts is known as the microsystem. There are several microsystems present for each child. Microsystems include the child's family, school, peers, and neighborhood. Microsystems also include sports and activities, such as karate class or Girl Scouts.
The microsystem contains bi-directional relationships. In other words, the relationships between the child and other individuals whom the child interacts with in the microsystem not only affect the child, but the child in turn influences the other person in the relationship. For example, in student-teacher relationships, the teacher affects the student, but the student's characteristics, in turn, have an effect on the behavior of the teacher.
The microsystem is where the most direct interactions between the child and the environment take place. In other words, the microsystems have a direct influence on the child's development. The child is also able to create the constructs, or conceptual elements, that exist in the microsystem. For example, a child is able to actively form social relationships with other children in ballet class.
Urie Bronfenbrenner is a developmental psychologist who introduced the ecological systems theory of human development, which includes the idea of the microsystem. According to Bronfenbrenner's theory, there are five environmental systems that interact with each other and influence child development. These five systems are microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem. The microsystem has the most direct influence on childhood development and includes a child's family, peers, and school.
Once the lesson on Bronfenbrenner's microsystem is over, you may test your capacity to:
- State the ecological systems theory of human development
- List the five environmental systems that affect childhood development
- Discuss the components of the microsystem
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Bronfenbrenner's Microsystem: Definition & Concept
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