Individual Life Space Analysis and Bronfenbrenner’s Theory


The individual that I decided to write about for this paper is Jonathan. Jonathan is a 20-year-old African American male. He comes from a single-parent middle-class household. The reason why I chose to write about Jonathan for this assignment is that he is someone who I would consider to be my total opposite. He is very outgoing and social whereas I am timider upon new interactions with people. I plan on obtaining the information from this person by asking them a series of interview questions, as well as having them elaborate on all aspects to give me a clear understanding of their story.

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Bronfenbrenner’s Theory

Bronfenbrenner’s theory can be defined as a series of systems that evaluate an individual’s environmental influences as well as personal connections that contribute to their personal character (“What is Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory,” n.d.). Bronfenbrenner’s theory is composed of five systems. The five systems are the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem (Burns, Warmbold-Brann, & Zaslofsky, 2015). The microsystem is the individual’s immediate environment such as their home or neighborhood. The mesosystem is the interactions that the individual shares with the people in his/her immediate circle such as parents or friends. The exosystem is when the effects on the individual occur from someone who inflicted emotions on someone within their microsystem. The macrosystem is composed of influences that have an effect on an individual’s core beliefs and values, and lastly, the chronosystem is shown the influence that time can have over someone.

Life Space Analysis

  1. Jonathan was an only child in a single-parent household. His mother worked for most of the day which deprived Jonathan of being able to spend time and bond with his mother. He grew up in a very urban environment in Atlanta, Georgia. He attended the local public school within his county jurisdiction.
  2. The effects that these interactions had on Jonathan’s character created a distance between him and his mother, since she was not around much for him while he was growing up their personal relationship was affected. Growing up in a bad neighborhood contributed to Jonathan using drugs at the age of 12, as well as becoming sexually active.
  3. On the exosystemic level, Jonathan’s behavior was informed by numerous societal organizations, such as social services and the police (Berns, 2016). These modulators were involved because of Jonathan’s antisocial behavior, which caused conflict with other people, his family, and the law. With his mother unable to provide both money and care at the same time, social worker services provided a degree of parenting. The police played a part as well, as Jonathan was detained a few times for misbehavior.
  4. On the macro systemic level, Jonathan experienced the conflict between two cultures. One of these cultures was the mainstream pro-social culture promoted by the society, while the other was the “street culture” he learned through acquaintance with numerous peers and participating in various gang activities (Berns, 2016). The conflict was facilitated by a clash of values, with the pro-social culture promoting cooperation and adherence to the law, whereas the street culture enforced antisocial tendencies, extreme individualism, and the role of strength above everything else. This conflict shaped Jonathan’s behavior, creating a strong-willed and independent individual, who, at the same time, retained a high level of social awareness and interaction. The overarching black culture also had an effect, as Jonathan got to experience it from interacting with other black people as well as governmental institutions. He experienced institutionalized racism, particularly from the likes of certain schoolteachers and police officers.
  5. Jonathan’s development on a chronosystemic level is presented through his transition from the conflicting cultural phase over the years (Berns, 2016). Although in his early adolescence Jonathan was influenced heavily by gang culture and had the potential to become a criminal, he rejected the negative sides of that heritage and saw the value of a pro-social culture. This shows both a personal and a maturational evolution of his characters. As a result, he enrolled with the military in order to serve and protect his country. In addition, he is working towards a scholarship in order to have a job when his service is over.

Overall, Jonathan’s journey showed chronosystemic progress from a troubled youth lacking parental care and attention, towards a protector of the society with a clear and positive plan for his future. This type of growth is typical of many individuals with a history of gang involvement, with the critical period occurring between 20-23 (Lanier, 2018). After a certain threshold, the majority of individuals seek a sense of belonging and stability, which a life of crime and gang activity cannot offer. Of course, there were many other aspects involved, namely the influence of certain school teachers and social workers. Consequently, Jonathan became a better person and is looking to be a productive member of our community. Although some of the issues regarding America’s institutionalized racism problem are still present, these issues can be overcome.


Jonathan’s story exemplifies how internal and external environments can shape a person’s social development. The progression from his microsystem to chronosystem is evident, as the child’s antisocial tendencies were motivated by his mother’s lack of attention and parental connection, which was in turn influenced by the outside society. As a result of parental abandonment, he had to learn from outside sources, such as his peers, teachers, and social workers. This offered him a broad range of views and alternatives to implement in his life. Although his adolescence is marked by certain dark events of his life, such as gang participation, drug abuse, and early sexual encounters, the overarching influence of society finally won over and made him the person he is today. The character growth presented by Jonathan has come as a result of age, psychological transformation, as well as intellectual and emotional maturity.


  • Although it is possible for a single parent to support a family, as evidenced in Jonathan’s case (he came from a middle-class household), it is difficult for one person to have enough time for work and parenting.
  • Jonathan’s street culture phase happened as a result of insufficient emotional attachment to his mother. Because of being neglected for the first years of his life, he did not have a positive moral compass to separate right from wrong. As a result, he became easily influenced by children with similar backgrounds.
  • Jonathan is reasonably lucky that his time in the gang did not leave any lasting negative effects on his record. Otherwise, his enrollment into the military would have been problematic.
  • The conflict between positive and negative models of behavior was ultimately won over by the positive, which is in line with Bronfenbrenner’s theory of development and maturation.
  • It is possible that Jonathan’s initial influence by the gang culture was an informal protest against the lack of choice and direction in his life. As finances were controlled by the parent and the venues available to adults were not yet accessible for a child, he viewed the gang as a way for personal independence. Its highly individualistic culture and a lack of norms and borders appealed to young Jonathan.
  • Despite all of the disadvantages and bad influences that Jonathan experienced he turned his life around once he joined the military.
  • The influence that time had on who Jonathan is today and his complete transformation from being a menace to society to a defender of our country.


Berns, R. (2016). Child, family, school, community: Socialization and support. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.

Burns, M. K., Warmbold-Brann, K., & Zaslofsky, A. F. (2015). Ecological systems theory in school psychology review. School psychology review, 44(3), 249-261.

Lanier, M. M. (2018). Essential criminology. New York, NY: Routledge.

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What is Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory? (n.d.). Web.

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