Microsystems are called “the most immediate level” for a developing child (Garbarino 22). They may be defined as the combination of the environment in which children dwell, the persons living with them, and the activities they undertake. Initially, the microsystem is simple. However, it is emphasized that, in the course of time, the level of complexity increases. The author draws readers’ attention to the fact that the development implies the transition from the relationships that are based on dyads to multi-dimensional interactions. The social achievements may be assessed by means of “enduring, reciprocal, multifaceted relationship,” and playing, working, and loving are the key indexes (Garbarino 22).
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As for mesosystems, they are called the relationships among various contexts or microsystems (Garbarino 23). It is stated that the number and the quality of different connections play the significant role and determine children’s success or failure, and contradictions between two systems are likely to confuse a child. It is explained that strong and diverse links among varied contexts make the mesosystem particularly important to the development of the child (Garbarino 23). This idea is exemplified by the correlation between the home environment and school: the similarity between two microsystems adds up to the better academic performance. Thus, numerous links give the opportunity to form future connections.
Further, exosystems are described. According to the author, children are not involved in this context directly, but the impact is mediated by those who have power over their life – again, parents and schools, particularly, the school boards and planning commissions, are mentioned (Garbarino 23). Two risks associated with exosystems are singled out. The first one is that adults may have to face difficulties in their lives and transmit it to the microsystems. The example is provided: parents whose work requires conformity often demand the same behavior from their children (Garbarino 24). The second risk is that important decisions may be made without considering the individual needs, and children have no advocates.
The fourth context, the macrosystems, refers to the “blueprints” of the ecology of people’s development; in other words, a macrosystem is a set of “broad ideological and institutional patterns of a particular culture” (Garbarino 24). It is demonstrated that the general organization of the world and its characteristics may bring either good or harm. The author identifies many risks, such as economic policies that result in poverty, high rates of mobility, instability that causes losing contacts, lack of support for parents, and discrimination.
Simultaneously, many opportunities connected with macrosystems are underlined: the enrichment of children’s development, family-centeredness, stability, and family-oriented activities. The author arrives at the conclusion that macrosystems are a significant part of the human ecology.
All these contexts are intertwined. It may be said they are based on the principle of the hierarchical structure, and the higher elements influence the lower ones. The first level, microsystems, is the closest to the child, and it is directly connected with several mesosystems, the second level. They make an impact on each other: a child transfers their habits and behavior from microsystems to mesosystems, but at the same time, the actions determined by the second-level context are reflected in the way the child conducts themselves within one microsystem.
The third level, exosystems, engages adults: they influence the personal communication in microsystems, for example, in parent-child relationships, and the links between different contexts, for instance, cooperation between parents and schools. Finally, macrosystems hold the highest position: they influence all levels and provide either opportunities or risks.
Garbarino, James. Children and Families in the Social Environment. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1982. Print.