Bronfenbrenner's Microsystem: Definition & Concept

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 became famous for his ecological systems theory. Learn about Bronfenbrenner's theory, the five environmental systems, and more in this lesson.

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 five environmental systems
The five envrironmental systems

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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