Bronfenbrenner’s Social Development


  Urie Bronfenbrenner, born in 1917, was a psychologist known for developing a theory which linked a child’s social and environmental setting to how the child learns and develops.  He is known for his research in child development and specifically for his Ecological Systems Theory.  In this model, a person’s social setting is categorized as four different systems.  These systems include a microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and a macrosystem.  Later, a fifth system was added, known as the chronosystem (“Urie Bronfenbrenner,” 2008).


Microsystem: includes, but is not limited to, a person’s friendships, family, activities, and teachers

Mesosystem: connections within the microsystem.  (student’s teacher communicating with the parents)

Exosystem: people and social settings that a person may not directly interact with (if a father gets laid off, this will affect the student)

Macrosystem: values, morals, and traditions in a culture

Chronosystem: events and transitions that occur over time (a student’s physical development throughout their life)

(“Urie Bronfenbrenner,” 2008)                                                                                                                                                                  Source:

*The diagram below is a visual of Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory.  It shows how the systems all interact with each other.   


Bronfenbrenner’s theory shows educators that a student’s environment is a key factor in how they develop.  Not only do the teachers play a part of the environment, but so do friends, family, administrators, neighbors, and many more.  The video below explains the different systems in story format.

Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Theory



Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Theory. (2010) Youtube. Retrieved July 15, 2011 from

Science Sundays. (2009). Live Journal. Retrieved July 15, 2011, from

Urie Bronfenbrenner, father of Head Start program and pre-eminent 'human ecologist,' dies at age 88. (2005).  Cornell Univserity News Science. Retrieved July 15, 2011, from