What is the Ecological Theory of Bronfenbrenner Systems?
The Ecological Theory of Systems by Urie Bronfenbrenner consists of an environmental approach on the development of the individual through the different environments in which they develop and that influence change and their cognitive, moral and relational development.
This theory can be applied in all areas of Psychology and other sciences, since we start from the basis that human development occurs in interaction with genetic variables and the environment, and clearly exposes the different systems that make up relationships personal depending on the context in which they are.
From less to greater globality, Urie Bronfenbrenner names four systems that surround the primary nucleus understood as the same individual. The systems are the following: microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem and macrosystem.
It is the most immediate or closest level at which the individual develops. The settings included in this system are the family, parents or school.
It includes the interrelation of two or more environments in which the person participates actively. It can also be understood as the link between microsystems. Clear examples can be the relationship between family and school, or between family and friends.
It refers to the forces that influence what happens in microsystems. In this case, the individual is not understood as an active subject. It is made up, for example, by the nature of the parents’ work, relationships that a teacher maintains with the rest of the faculty, etc.
Referring to the social, cultural and structural conditions that determine in each culture the general features of institutions, contexts, etc. in which the person and the individuals of their society develop. It is constituted by the values of a culture, customs, etc.
To these spatial areas the chronosystem must be added , which introduces the temporal dimension in the scheme. The cultural evolution and living conditions of the environment are included here.
Criticisms of this theory
The main criticism of this environmental vision that we can find is that it pays little attention to the biological and cognitive factors of development in its essence. In addition, it does not provide a sequence of change in development as, for example, the theories of Jean Piaget and Erik Erikson provide. However, by placing so much emphasis on the contextual aspect of human development, which is a space in which one can directly intervene, this theory is often used when talking about network education and shared responsibility for education.
As social beings and immersed in an environment with a specific culture and context, and at the same time, in constant transformation by the globalized framework in which the zeitgeist places us , we can think that personal development is created from cultural intermediaries and interrelation of the systems mentioned in the Ecological Theory of Bronfenbrenner.
Not only should we mention development through theoretical interactions, but to address the existing criticisms of the model, we must take into account the interaction between personality variables and the environment, since the sum of the systems is both , socializing and individualizing agent, and serves to understand the development of the individual in different contexts.