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Sarah Guy

FAM 311
Dr. Christopher
5/10/16
Bioecological Framework:
Bioecological Framework is a relatively new family theory. It applies concepts
from ecology to human behavior; it especially focuses on adaptation. In essence, it
shows that as ones environment changes, one must change their own behavior to
compensate. They must adapt to survive.
Bioecological framework can trace its roots through many significant scientists.
As with most behavioral sciences, we begin with Gregor Mendel and Charles Darwin.
Gregor Mendel is the father of genetics; his work paved the way for research on all
inherited traits. Charles Darwin is famous for discovering natural selection and
evolution. When we combine their work, we can begin to understand the nature vs.
nurture conflict. Are we a product of our genes or of our environments? Research would
say both. Our behavior stems from both the environment we are living in and our
genetic predispositions. Mendel and Darwin are not the only ones with a hand in the
creation of bioecology. Robert Fisher improved upon this by discovering that the cause
of evolution is natural selection as opposed to mutations. This means that the
organisms that procreate are able to procreate because they were able to adapt to their
environment. Thomas Malthus proved that the environment can have checks on human
population. This can be achieved through means such as birth control, wars, or famine.

Now, Ellen Swallow Richards was one of the first to apply ecology to the home. In her
research as a chemist, she learned about many health dangers facing families such as
contaminated water and improper nutrition (Chemical Heritage Foundation). She
advocated for education about ones environment so that they are capable of making
better choices for themselves and their families.
Bioecological Framework makes several assumptions. The first is that people
and groups are both socially and biologically based. This means that both nature and
nurture have an effect on behavior. Next, we must assume that people must meet their
physical needs through their environment. Although our technology has improved to the
point that living in inhospital regions is possible, there is still a limit to this. Then, we
must recognize time as both a resource and a limit. We can use time to grow and
develop, but we only have so much time to work with. Additionally, we must assume
that our interactions are spatially organized. This means that we primarily spend our
time and interact with others near where we live. Finally, we must assume that human
behavior can be understood on several levels. Some examples of this are on the
population level and the individual level.
Like any scientific pursuit, bioecology has specific terminology that has been
reworked from our traditional view to apply to families. For example, even in our busy
lives today, we are still living in an ecosystem. An ecosystem is made up of many
subsystems working together. This can easily be exemplified by a family or a
community.

Our text also spends a great deal of time covering ecological levels.
Bronfenbrenner developed several spheres of influences on ones environment. The
first is the microsystem, which is made up of the individual and a significant other party.
The next is the mesosystem. The mesosystem is when any microsystems interact.
Another sphere of influence is the exosystem. This area includes any system that has
an effect on the individual that the individual is not a part of. Following this is the sphere
of macrosystems. A macrosystem is a system that provides general culture context. The
final zone contains chronosystems. Chronosystems are when time interacts with
pre-existing systems (Sincero).
Bioecological framework heavily relies on the idea of adaptation. Adaptation is
the ability of an individual to change in response to the environment. It allows an
organism to become better suited to their environment. However, an individual cannot
adapt without limits. Each individual has a range of behavior that it is capable of . This is
called its adaptive range. Some behavior just is not possible at a given point in time.
For example, a toddler would be hard-pressed to understand theoretical physics. They
are incapable of such a feat. However, we are able to compensate for some of our
faults using technology. For example, a person on their own cannot adapt to
Antarctica's harsh climate. However, with advances in heat retaining technology, people
can study there for some time.
Bioecological Framework does not have one set of propositions. Different people
hold different sets. One proposition is the idea that families are an essential part of all
social system. Its role is to provide for the physical needs of its members and to nurture

them. Meanwhile, it provides the social system with a means for reproducing to form
more economic and social units. This leads us to another proposition, which states that
an individual is impossible to study as a single unit. As people are always interacting
with something, the smallest unit to study would be a dyad, or a pair. Finally, this brings
us to a final proposition: whenever an individual is adapting to their environment, they
are also changing the environment. This is because individuals are always interacting
with at least one other party. This means that our first individual makes up a part of
someone elses environment. Thus, when the individual adapts, they are changing
someone elses environment. This in turn cause the other person to adapt, changing the
environment of our original individual.
There are several fields of study related to bioecological framework. The first is
family demography. Family demography studies population demographics such as
which part of the population is married and the fertility of a population. Studies in family
demographics have made it clear the sort of general cultural context that some families
are living in. Family demography helps us understand what type of cultural pressures
exist in an individual's environment. Sociobiology is another related field. Sociobiology is
a study in search of biological explanation for social behaviors. Unfortunately,
sometimes this field leads to wacky ideas. For example, one of the ideas of sociobiology
is inclusive fitness. This idea states that individuals will try to help other relatives
experience reproductive success because it maximizes transmission of the individuals
genes. This is not how I feel about my family. I do not put much credence in the idea of
inclusive fitness.

Bioecological Framework is a useful tool for analyzing behavior. For example, it


has been proven that there is less child maltreatment in communities with greater
resources. If we use bioecological framework to help us understand this trend, we may
find that the culture of this community leads the members to be more actively involved
in each others lives. These extra eyes and hands can see warning signs of child
maltreatment and make the changes necessary to prevent it.
Bioecological Framework is also a useful tool for CFLEs. It reveals the vast
amount of factors that may have an effect on the situation. If CFLEs know what they
should be looking for, they can provide far more effective interventions. Furthermore,
bioecological framework can be used as a teaching tool for others. If we teach others
about the effect they can have on their environment and that their environment can
have on them, they may be more likely to try and improve their community. If we had
more people willing to do their part, Im sure that we could accomplish a lot.
However, bioecological framework is not without its flaws. To begin, it is only a
framework, not a full fledged theory. Bioecological framework is a work in progress and
is incapable of accounting for every situation. Another concern is that this framework
cannot explain the origin of decay. Not every situation ends in growth. Some things
must die off, but this framework is not equipped to explain this. Also, there are several
flaws regarding analysis. For the first, how far is too far? An individuals environment is
made up of countless factors. How can we pinpoint which aspect is responsible for the
change? Secondly, how do individuals analyze their own situation? Often, an individual
must try to adapt without knowing the full extent of the changes to their environment.

How can they make the most efficient changes without full knowledge. Also, how can
we predict their behavior if we dont have the same information to go off of.
In my personal opinion, this theory has a lot of merit but it doesnt include God. It
has no way of explaining the love that we are supposed to share with our heavenly
family. If we simply follow what works best for us, we neglect Gods own children and in
doing so, we neglect God. Matthew 25:45 in the NIV says He will reply, Truly I tell you,
whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me. We are called to
sacrifice our earthly possessions to gain treasures in heaven. We arent supposed to
worry about providing for our physical needs because God will care for us. This
framework does not have a place for unearthly ideals.
In conclusion, bioecological framework is a work in progress. While it has many
benefits, it also has flaws (the most pertinent of which is a lack of spiritual awareness).
This framework has its merits, but be sure to take it with a grain of salt.

Works Cited
Chemical Heritage Foundation. Ellen H. Swallow Richards. Retrieved May 10, 2016,
from
http://www.chemheritage.org/discover/online-resources/chemistry-in-history/the
mes/public-and-environmental-health/public-health-and-safety/richards-e.aspx
Sarah Mae Sincero (Mar 14, 2012). Ecological Systems Theory. Retrieved May 10,
2016 from Explorable.com: https://explorable.com/ecological-systems-theory
Holy Bible, New International Version, NIV Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by
Biblica, Inc.