Urie Bronfenbrenner And Child Development

  1. The Microsystem
  2. The Mesosystem
  3. The Exosystem
  4. The Macrosystem

One final developmental theory needs to be addressed, even though it's not a stage theory.

Ecological Systems

Urie Bronfenbrenner (1917-2005) developed the ecological systems theory to explain how everything in a child and the child's environment affects how a child grows and develops.

He labeled different aspects or levels of the environment that influence children's development, including the:

  • Microsystem.
  • Mesosystem.
  • Exosystem.
  • Macrosystem.
Ecological Systems

The Microsystem

The microsystem is the small, immediate environment the child lives in. Children's microsystems will include any immediate relationships or organizations they interact with, such as their immediate family or caregivers and their school or daycare.

How these groups or organizations interact with the child will have an effect on how the child grows; the more encouraging and nurturing these relationships and places are, the better the child will be able to grow.

Furthermore, how a child acts or reacts to these people in the microsystem will affect how they treat her in return. Each child's special genetic and biologically influenced personality traits, what is known as temperament, end up affecting how others treat them. This idea will be discussed further in a later document about child temperament.

The Mesosystem

Bronfenbrenner's next level, the mesosystem, describes how the different parts of a child's microsystem work together for the sake of the child.

For example, if a child's caregivers take an active role in a child's school, such as going to parent-teacher conferences and watching their child's soccer games, this will help ensure the child's overall growth. In contrast, if the child's two sets of caretakers, mom with step-dad and dad with step-mom, disagree how to best raise the child and give the child conflicting lessons when they see him, this will hinder the child's growth in different channels.

The Exosystem

The exosystem level includes the other people and places that the child herself may not interact with often herself but that still have a large affect on her, such as parents' workplaces, extended family members, the neighborhood, etc.

For example, if a child's parent gets laid off from work, that may have negative affects on the child if her parents are unable to pay rent or to buy groceries; however, if her parent receives a promotion and a raise at work, this may have a positive affect on the child because her parents will be better able to give her her physical needs.

The Macrosystem

Bronfenbrenner's final level is the macrosystem, which is the largest and most remote set of people and things to a child but which still has a great influence over the child.

The macrosystem includes things such as the relative freedoms permitted by the national government, cultural values, the economy, wars, etc. These things can also affect a child either positively or negatively.

  • remy

    awesome information, all is good, the only confusing thin is that when i was citing this information i had difficulty finding who specifically wrote this about Bronfenbrenner's theory. it would be more helpful if you included it. thank you keep the good work up :)

  • raz

    the informations pritty useful, not confusing or too complex its easy to understand!!

  • Anonymous-1

    why do children role model their enviroment?

  • AJ

    I agree with the other comments about the article being easy to read and understand. I wanted to use it as a reference but was unable to find the name of the person who wrote the article could that be added some place.

    Editor's Note: The author's name is Angela Oswalt, MSW

  • ah

    This is very interesting theory. i want some information, how to use this theory to work as caregiver.

    Editor's Note: Our articles on Child Development and Parenting of Infants and of Young Children are based on developmental principles, including those articulated by Dr. Bronfenbrenner

  • lovermuffin

    i had to do a report on him and i thought that it was going to be hard, boring, and dull, but this helped alot. it was short sweet and to the point. thanks a bunch (:

    good thing that this guy is such a cutie though. may he rip.

  • Anonymous-2

    I found this little reading fantastic, I'm a busy university student and found this article to be to the point and found that the details were correct with other information i've been looking at!! -fantastic people!!

  • Christina

    This article was very informational on Bronfenbrenners theory. Thank you for this article. I am doing a presentation on him for my Child Education class and I was in need of information. This article was easy to read and to the point. Thanks.

  • SP

    Hi, nice article. Anybody have/know of any good academic articles that explain doing a psychtherapuetic formulation using Bronfenbrenner's theory? I find it useful conceptualizing my cases using the different levels, but will like to read something that explains it a bit more systematically. I'm only in my first year of practice!

    Thanks !

  • Jennifer

    I find Bronfenbrenner's Bioecological Systems Theory works VERY well with Multisystemic Treatment. Check out Henggeler and the Rochester Youth Development Study. All very complementary.

  • pauline

    easy reading helped me understand better

  • Cassy

    ...I need info about where he grew up and his childhood and such. Have any ideas on what sites to go to? D:

  • Defne

    You can search on wikipedia about him..

  • jack hoff

    really well done!

  • christal

    this infomation was very helpful thank you

  • Anonymous-3

    okay i need to know where he lived and abuot him and stuff

  • criszle

    i am just a first year college student and we need an information about ecological theory and piaget theory!

    this article is really a big help to me and i also used this in my reporting because my topic is bio-cultural theory!!my professor don't even asked me.

  • amanda lala!!
  • ljhaynes

    The information is concise, but accurate. The best way to explain.

  • Sam

    Thank you very much for the short piece that you have written regarding the theory of Bronfenbrenner. I found it easy to understand, which is exactly what I needed to be able to interpret it for the essay that I am writing.

  • Jessica.

    Thankyou so much for your short piece, it was very understanding, clear and precise, helping me very much on my studies...

    Yours sincerely.

  • sara

    heyy thanx for da infoo love dat i passed ma assessment for this alot of info was given...thnx again

    write bak plzzzz publicity....thnxxxx

  • johanna

    Hi, i have been doing study on Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems theory i noticed when i was looking at another web site with a PDF it says there is another theory and it is Chronosystem is the elements within the previous relations which are noted above. This system focus on the internal and external factors of children. Internal factors are the physiological changes due to the aging of the child. The external factors maybe the death of a parent or someone close to them. Due to these changes children may become more determined on how change will happen to them.

    Johanna Mcauliffe

  • big boi101

    nice but i need more info about his other theorys and where he grew up childhood and all that great stuff but great info helped me write my papper :)

  • k.angel

    awsum info...brief an simple, jus tha way i like it :)

  • cappacino



  • Stanley Mwailah

    Congratulation for a good document, I read it and is very helpful to my work of working with children at risk.

  • celeste wannenburgh

    As part of our powerpoint presentation at CPUT we humbly asked if we could change from a given theorist to our newfound man, Urie Bronfenbrenner.Wow, what an indepth and relevant study of man.We've read, questioned agreed with, and, can talk non-end about Bronfenbrenner and our newfound observations in our respective schools.Our sincere thanks to this man for making it possible for us as a group to be able to share with our collegues and lecture our twenty minute powerpoint presentation of such worth.


  • ms hepi

    most definitly found this easy to use short and sweet just the way i like it!!!

  • sarwat

    Informative, useful and straightforward .helped with my assessment. Thanks

  • jess

    well done

  • Shinaye

    hey thanks for the information, great way of explaining things but i think you missed the final stage of "chronosystem"

  • Fish

    Nice work, thanks for the help in this area, It explained it well


    I was starting to get drowsy with all the other info available, thank god i found this one. this is a big help for my upcoming quiz in my education course..... thanks ! :)

  • Jeanne

    This was really great. It toally summed up what was inportant about his theory. It helped me prepare for my assesment.

  • Anonymous-4

    This is well put and matches all the correct infomation. I am very pleased with this article! :)

  • (: child development learner.

    i'm really glad for this article, it really helped me to understand what i was learning. too bad i cant use it cuz the article is too old. i wish the people would renew it. (:

  • Uzma

    Well according to Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Theory there are these 5 systems...so what happened about the "chronosystem" did that get lost with time??????? :)

    Well I must say it was clearly explained and the language wassimple.

  • garden girl

    I've been making myself crazy trying make the theories of Piaget & Erickson fit my approach to working with children. Trouble is, I believed it all in my early psych classes 30 years ago & now? It just doesn't work for me, it doesn't fit. Bronfenbrenner's Ecological (Bio-ecological) model does, it is all making sense & my paper is as good as written! Thank you for the clear & concise information.

  • Ryan

    Yes, the Chronosystem is missing. However, it was not part of Bronfenbrenner's original model. Just for clarity, it involves sociohistoric events, life transitions, and environmental changes. Examples would be how the US operates differently after the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks and how beliefs towards certain ethnicities and religious groups have changed. You can also think about marital divorce as a transition and how it affects all of the individuals involved.

    I hope this helps!

    Feel free to email with questions.

  • Mr.Capps

    a well put together piece and the comments in the thread are a must read for the enlightened....

  • Anonymous-5

    Just want to take this opportunity to say thankyou so very much...your view on Bronfenbrenner really help me with my assesment. It really explained what I needed to know.

    Once again thanyou - GodBlezz...

  • Anonymous-6

    wow thats was so amazing to read just fantastic :)

  • Anonymous-7

    im totally getting an A+ in my Living with Children.


  • Anonymous-8

    This info just helped a bunch

  • kuldeep kaur

    i read through above chapter which is really increased my knowledge. thanks

  • Dorah

    This has really helped me in my studies, thanxxx. Im going to site my examples with ease during exam.

  • kenyahta threatt

    wow i never new there would be so much info about one dude and it was so informational!!!! i love love love love loved it so much....well gotta go chow!!

  • Daniel

    the document has made me learn what i didnt know about child's growth

  • heart of a butterfly

    hi' ahm its very wholesome,documEnt i Ever rEad.tAnk you for the complete inFoRMation,so now i can able to deliver my report perfectly......and clearly.........................keep up the good work...

  • Jacinta

    This article is really good and clear. I WISH it had better referencing so it was easier to use in my report. Its dificult to find out who actually wrote it and when ect.
    If anyone knows please post!

  • lungy

    this has realy helped me with my assignments thanks alot

  • Amanda

    thank you so much! You wrote an awesome article! :) Very helpful!

  • you knwo

    great article but is there a similar theory out there?

  • Jenine

    This article made me understand Bronfenbrenner's theory more.