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Bronfenbrenner Ecological Theory | Ecological Systems theory


Bronfenbrenner 's Ecological Theory

Uri Bronfenbrenner has explained the development of the child in the context of his social environment. 

In his theory of social development, he has given more importance to the interactions between social environment and biological dispositions of the child, hence this theory is known as Ecological Theory. 

According to Bronfenbrenner, children grow up living in different social systems, due to which their social development is affected by their interactions with these social systems. Because in this theory, both the child's biological instincts and his environment have been given an important place in his social development, on the basis of this concept, Bronfenbrenner And Evans named this theory as the Bioecological Model in 2000.

Bronfenbrenner Ecological systems theory 

Bronfenbrenner has divided the social environment into five levels/circles.

There are many social agencies in each circle, in contact with which the development of the child takes place. The interactions between the child and various social agencies and the mutual interactions between these social agencies affect the development of the child. 

The five environmental circles mentioned by Bronfenbrenner are as follows:-


1. Small circle, 

2. Middle circle, 

3. Outer circle, 

4. Large circle, 

5. Event circle


It is that small part of the social environment which is closest to the child and with which he interacts directly. This has been termed by Bronfenbrenner as the immediate environment.

The child's friends, family, school religious institutions, neighborhood, peers, health services, etc. are included in the small circle. 

At this stage the child interacts with his parents, siblings, friends, teachers etc. In this interaction, the child is influenced by the people he comes in contact with and simultaneously influences them with his reactions. 

Hence the nature of this interaction is bidirectional. Just as a child remains in a calm state, obeys the parents, teachers and elders, they also love him and listen to his words carefully. so their end

The nature of this type of mutual interaction leads to dialectic situation and creates irritation in both the parties. 

Hence, these types of interactions negatively affect the socioemotional development of children.


In the mesosphere, the interactions between the various components of the microsphere are included. 

This interaction may occur simultaneously with two or more components of the microsphere, such as between the student's home environment and the school environment or between the school system and the home system. 

The relationship between experiences with peers and experiences with family comes in the boundary of the middle circle.


Epstein found in his research study that the students who were given enough opportunities to interact and make decisions at home, school and with peers, they were found to have more initiative power and tendency to achieve high level achievement. 

If there is no homogeneity in the home environment, the school environment and the environment of peers, then it becomes difficult for the child to adjust himself in these circumstances and his social and emotional development is not in the proper and desirable direction, but it is associated with many types of disorders.


The outer circle includes that social context in which there are some formal organizations with which the child is not directly connected. But they have a lot of impact on the social and emotional development of the child. 

Economic system, health services, monarchy, media of mass communication, religious organizations and working-place of parents etc. are main in these organizations. 

For example- a child's father goes to work at a place where he is troubled by not being able to keep pace with the boss. He often returns upset from the office and takes out the anger of the boss on the children and wife. 

In this way, the environment of the house gets polluted, which affects the emotions of the children badly and they start behaving undesirable in many areas. 

Apart from this, if the children do not get good health services and good education system, then they may suffer from physical



This is the topmost and broadest level of this development model. This is the cultural setting by which the child is influenced by cultural values, social customs, religious beliefs, ancient stories etc. 

All these affect the social and emotional development of the child. Every society has some expectations from its citizens Therefore, the values, practices, socio-economic conditions in which a person develops by living in it definitely have an impact on his conduct values and emotions. The socio-emotional development of children from uncivilized society.

Low economic level and uneducated families is not as good as that of the children of upper class resourceful people.


Events include all those events that happen in a student's life time or before his birth in his family and environment; 

For example, divorce of parents, death of one or both of the parents or disorganization of the family due to some natural calamity, etc. 

Apart from this, there are some students who are living in metropolitan cities and are using very modern resources and do not hesitate to break traditional caste bonds and do inter-caste marriages, 

while on the other hand students living in rural and backward areas are not even aware of modern things and cannot come out of the traditional stereotypes set by society and caste. 

Therefore, children living in different circumstances have different experiences due to which their values


In conclusion, it can be said that Bronfenbrenner has systematically included all the levels from the micro level to the macro level of the social context of the children in the socio-emotional development. 

Hence this theory is gaining popularity in explaining the aspects of socioemotional development of children.

Criticism of Bronfenbrenner's theory

1. In this theory, environmental factors (home, society, culture, religion, workplace history etc.) have been given proper place in the development of the child, but cognitive factors have been neglected, due to which many psychologists criticize this model on this basis.

2. In this model no attempt was made to mention the changes in the development of children in stage order or step by step.

3. Explaining the interactions between different social systems is a complex task.

Educational Implications of Bronfenbrenner Ecological Systems theory 


1. Bronfenbrenner has given importance to many aspects like school, family, society, culture etc. in the development of the child. 

Therefore, in order to get proper information related to the behavior of the child, the teacher should keep in touch with all of them from time to time.

2. Various social systems and agencies have a contribution in the educational activities of the child. 

Therefore, there should be interactions in all systems in such a way that it is convenient for the children to adjust with them.

3. The teacher should have full knowledge of the child's family, culture, socio-economic level, religious values, customs etc.

because all these have a special contribution in the all-round development of the child.