(Taken from Scott Plunkett's FCS 432 Course Pack)
Human ecology evolves from “the assumption that humans are a part of the total life system and cannot be considered apart from all other living species in nature and the environments that surround them” (Andrews, Bubolz, & Paolucci, 1980, p. 32).
· Humans are ecological organisms interdependent with other organisms in the environment. Humans cannot be considered as separate from other organisms or the environment. Individuals and groups are both biological and social in nature.
· The ecosystem is comprised of the individual and/or family in interaction with the environment.
· Ecosystems are based on the holistic premise that a change in any part of the system affects the system as a whole and also the parts of the system. This assumes the whole system and the parts are interdependent and operate in relation to each other.
· Definition: To make suitable for a specific use or situation
· An essential component of Human Ecological Theory. All components of the model adapt to one another.
o For example: A child who goes to a new school with children he/she has never met, will find a way to fit in and adapt to his/her new environment.
· Definition: The function or position of an organism or a population within an ecological community
o For example: A family is a niche; a classroom is a niche.
· Families are ecological organisms since they are comprised of humans.
· Families, the environment, and the relationship within and between the two must be considered as interdependent and examined as a system. “Families are semi open, goal directed, dynamic, adaptive systems. They can respond, change, develop, and act on and modify their environment. Adaptation is a continuing process in family ecosystems” (p. 426).
· The family interacts with more than one environment since it comes in contact and resides in multiple environments.
· Human behavior is not determined by the environment. The environment does, however, pose certain constraints and limits to human behavior. It also provides opportunities for behavior.
· The child impacts the environment and the environment impacts the child.
· Important to understand and study development in the context of the everyday environment in which children are reared.
o Therefore we examine the environment the child has direct contact with, and those he/ she does not.
· Organism/Individual – Characteristics of the individual
o Examples: cognitive development, temperament, personality traits, health, intelligence, abilities and/or disabilities
· Microsystem – The settings within which the individual directly interacts. The settings with the most immediate and direct impact on a child’s biological and psychological development
o Examples: family, school, day care, peers, doctor’s office, church/synagogue, neighborhood play area.
o The key concept is the “direct contact” between the child and the niche
· Mesosystem – The interrelationships between the various microsystems such as the link between the family and school.
· Examples: parent-teacher conference, having friends come to one’s home, the family attending the school spring concert
· Opportunities and expectations within the family, such as access to books and learning to read or emphasizing basic academic and socialization skills, may critically influence the child’s experiences and success in another microsystem, the school
o The key concept is the “interaction” between two microsystems
· Exosystem – The social, economic, political, religious, and other settings in which child is not personally involved but affect them in one of the Microsystems or bear on those who interact with the child.
o Examples: government policies affecting schools, school board, Parks and Recreation Coordinator, parent’s place of employment, friends of family.
o Key concept is that other contexts removed from the child’s immediate environment have a powerful impact on a child’s development
· Macrosystem – The social milieu that encompases the microsystems, mesosystem, and exosystems. Macrosystems include the developing person’s society and subculture, which include the broader ideologies, belief systems, and institutional patterns or values of the culture.
o Examples: laws, customs of the culture, economic and political systems, religion, ethnic group, socioeconomic status, American ideology.