Towards a Critical Ecology of Child Development: Aligning the Theories of Bronfenbrenner and Bourdieu

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Abstract

Bronfenbrenner’s model of bio-ecological development has been utilized widely within the social sciences, in the field of human development, and in social work. Yet, while championing the rights of marginalised families and communities, Bronfenbrenner had under-theorized the role of power, agency and structure in shaping the ‘person-context’ interrelationship, life opportunities and social well-being. To respond to this deficit, this paper firstly outlines Bronfenbrenner’s ‘person, process, context, time’ model. Secondly, it then seeks to loosely align aspects of Bronfenbrenner’s model with Bourdieu’s analytical categories of habitus, field and capital. It is argued that these latter categories enable social workers to develop a critical ecology of child development, taking account of power and the interplay between agency and structure. The implications of the alignment for child and family social work are considered in the final section.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-69
Number of pages17
JournalFamilies, Relationships and Societies
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2017

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