5 Commentsby   |  11.09.09  |  Uncategorized

Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model contains five environmental systems which includes microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macorsystem, and chronosystem. The below image shows Bronfenbrenner’s five systems, and their relationship importance, with the microsystems being the smallest and most immediate to the macrosystem which is the largest and most distal.

 meso 2


Mesosystems have been defined by Bronfenbrenner (1989) as “a set of interrelations between two or more settings in which the developing person actively participates” (p. 119). Children experience mesosystems between their home, school, and peer groups while adults see it through family, work, and friends. When the developing person first enters a new setting they become the primary link between it and their other settings. “Mesosystems are the relationships between contexts in which the developing person experiences reality” (Whittacker, 1983, p. 12). Although the person serves as the link that establishes the mesosystem, the participation of the significant others in the settings is usually the more common focus of the system. This is seen as a child’s mother connects to their school when she comes to eat lunch with them. Mesosystems are made up of the relationships between people and things that are present in a person’s microsystem. I have included the below picture to show the most common relationships found in a mesosystem.

 meso 1

Mesosystems are created through everyday interactions that create links between individuals, their environments, and a third party. This is seen in the movie Kindergarten Cop when police officer Arnold Schwarzenegger goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher to protect a child and his mother. He’s linked to an elementary school, children, and a new community through the family he’s sent to protect and a whole new mesosystem is formed.

 meso 3


1)      Do you think that mesosystems determine how a child will view their worth or how they are viewed by others?

2)      What mesosystems have been created by you and how do you think they have impacted others?

 Bartol, C. & Bartol, A. (1989). Juvenile delinquency: A systems approach. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass

Whittaker, J. (1983). Social support networks: Informal helping in the human services. Hawthorned, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.


  1. Dean Pye
    2:23 pm, 11.11.09

    Its an interesting thought that mesosystems are the contexts in which two people or groups can link together to form some relationship. I thought the idea of a mother being drawn into the school system through the child was fascinating because of how easily this happens and we often take no notice of how people introduce us into contexts that we initially are not a part of. I think the mesosystem of a child will have a profound impact on that child, both in how they view their worth and viewed by others, although probably not as much effect as their microsystem would have on these issues. However these relationships established in the mesosystem are a part of who they are as a person, and so the health of that system should affect in some way their own health.

  2. Sybil Vess
    10:32 pm, 11.15.09

    I think the mesosystem has a profound impact on child development. If you take into consideration the thousands of cases where people blame things on a bad, unhealthy childhood experience. Though childhood relationships outside the microsystem are typically brief and limited, almost every adult can recall an instance in their childhood where they started questioning their self-worth. Let’s be honest, I’m sure I am not the only one who can remember a childhood bully. Or what about that one teacher or adult that became a mentor to you? Those types of relationships leave marks, whether good or bad, and it is important to remember that regardless if we mean to, we all leave behind our own marks on the people around us. Some may be small, while some may be profound and deep, but all are important in influencing the natural course of a person’s development.

  3. Tommy Johnson
    10:39 am, 11.30.09

    Yes, I think that Mesosystems impact the early development of children and adolescents. Parents have a role in choosing children’s day-to-day mesosystems.
    Do they home-school? Send them to private school? or Send them to public School?
    That there has just impacted the people that the child will interact with for 13 years, the mentors the child will come into contact with, and all of the social implications and dynamics that the child is faced with.
    Inside of that however is the real mesosystems. The relationships within the schools. The friends made, the enemies hated, and the teachers whom save the day.

    One of the best examples that I can think of (and it does involve education) is the movie, “American History X”. Danny is in a class where he wrote a paper on “Mein Kampf” (a book by Hitler…Danny is a white supremacist). His principal took charge and made a relationship with Danny, because he didn’t want him to end up in prison like his brother Derek did. This relationship is an impactful relationship that comes outside of the family unit (I suppose it could be in the family unit as well…)

  4. Morgan Myrick
    11:46 pm, 12.06.09

    Thanks for all of your comments! I think we all agree that a child is deeply impacted by their mesosystems and that it is somewhat shocking to think about how much of an influence we all have on them! Your insights are all great and I know that as we go into our lives and jobs we are going to be thinking about how we affect others & this little blog posting of mine will come back to bless you :).

  5. Elizabeth Brown
    4:46 pm, 12.08.09

    One of my favorite experiences this semester was involving a mesosystem that linked at least four of my exosystems. Tyson and Dr Goff were a part of this as well, when we sat on a panel at a college group to talk about sexuality. It was so cool to see so many of my worlds collide: undergrad, gradschool, church, and old friends. I had an existing link with each person in the room, like the hub of a wheel. This for me was a perfect illustration of a mesosystem.
    Now, I don’t know that I can say how this mesosystem impacted others, but I very distinctly felt its impact on me. I felt very energized and focused. I could see all the parts of my life coming together to bring me where I am now and where I am wanting to go…equifinality.

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