This entry briefly describes the development of Urie Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological theory, before providing more detail about the theory in its final form. It then discusses appropriate uses of the mature form of the theory at different stages of the lifespan.

The Development of the Theory

Those with only a limited acquaintance with Bronfenbrenner’s theory are most likely to see it as a theory of the ways in which different levels of context influence human development. These levels of context are often portrayed as a set of concentric rings, with the individual in the center surrounded, from inner to outer, by the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem. It is true that Bronfenbrenner himself used the metaphor of the matrioshka (the Russian nesting set of dolls) when describing the ...

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