ECOSYSTEMIC FACTORS INFLUENCING THE MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF ADOLESCENTS

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CHAPTER THREE ECOSYSTEMIC FACTORS INFLUENCING THE MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF ADOLESCENTS WITH SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO SOUTH AFRICA

Teach learners wisdom by living with right morals so that with the palm of your hands, we may not sink with them but soar with them (Anon).

INTRODUCTION

This chapter outlines the ecosystemic factors which influence the moral development of black adolescents within the South African context with special reference to black adolescents in townships. The chapter also focuses on extending the theoretical framework (cf. Chapter 2) for the empirical study. Radhakrishna, Yoder and Ewing (2007:692) mention that a theoretical framework is a conceptual model of how one theorizes or makes logical sense of the relationships among several factors that have been identified as important to the problem. Essentially, they further indicate that theoretical underpinnings attempt to integrate key pieces of information especially variables in a logical manner and also conceptualises a problem that can be tested. A theoretical framework determines which questions are to be answered by the research and how empirical procedures are to be used as tools to answer these questions (De Vos, Strydom, Fouche & Delport, 2005:35).
Ecosystemic factors in this study refer to the family, local and wider community relationships, interpersonal interactions and the role of the school, church, peers, television and internet. All factors are discussed within the social context which implies the interaction of factors such as economic, social and cultural. Economic factors include general economic status, availability of resources and how people characteristically work and survive. Cultural factors include specific languages, values, beliefs and customary practices as well as particular ways of understanding the world often referred to as world views. The chapter outlines Bronfenbrenner’s model and its application to adolescent’s moral development as well as the black adolescent in the South African society.

BRONFENBRENNER’S ECOSYSTEMIC MODEL AND ITS APPLICATION TO ADOLESCENTS IN SOUTH AFRICA

According to Bronfenbrenner (1979:22) natural environments are the major source of influence on developing people and adolescents, a source that is often overlooked. The developing individual is said to be embedded in several environmental systems ranging from immediate settings such as the family to remote contexts such as the broader culture. In addition, Bronfenbrenner (1986 & 1994) remarks that development occurs through increasingly complex processes of regular, active, two-way interaction between a developing person and the immediate everyday environment processes that are affected by more remote contexts of which the person may not even be aware.
Bronfenbrenner and Evans (2000:115-125) state that ecosystemic model views a person as developing within a complex system of relationships affected by multiple levels of the surrounding environment. Since a person’s biological dispositions join with environmental forces to mould development, Bronfenbrenner recently characterized his perspective as a bio-ecological model. In other words, Bronfenbrenner (2005:41) emphasises the role of biological perspectives on human development. He further states that all the systems were later replaced as interconnected systems and also specifies why the social development of individuals cannot be divorced from the social network in which they are embedded (Bronfenbrenner, 1943:363).

Rationale for the use of Bronfenbrenner’s model

As an educational psychologist and a researcher, I chose Bronfenbrenner’s model as it addresses people’s needs in all contextual environments and thus, appropriate for a study of social shapers of moral development of black adolescents. The following discussion outlines the rationale for the use of Bronfebrenner’s model. Notably, the ecosystemic perspective integrates the ecological and systemic theories as components of Bronfenbrenner’s ecosystem’s model. Different levels of the system in the social context influence one another continuously so that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Bronfenbrenner (1977:513) mentions that the ecosystem model was a response to what the creator himself described as the science of the strange behaviour of people in strange situations with strange adults for the briefest periods of time. In time, Bronfenbrenner’s efforts help to create a body of research reflecting human development from real-life situations in real-life settings. As Bronfenbrenner (1995) mentions, the ecosystem model views development within a complex system of relationships which are subsequently affected by multiple levels of the surrounding environment. Furthermore, Bronfenbrenner (2005) argues that individuals develop within a system of relationships to family and society and not in isolation. Therefore, he called his model the ecosystem of human development and also believed that keeping the family intact particularly ensuring that people have regular, sustained interaction with their parents, not just sporadic quality time, was one of the most critical challenges facing society.

Bronfenbrenner’s model

Bronfenbrenner’s model was initially developed in 1979 and further developed over years. According to Bronfenbrenner (1979:3) adolescents do not develop in a vacuum but rather develop within the multiple contexts of their families, communities and countries. Certainly, adolescents are influenced by peers, relatives and other adults with whom they come in contact and by the religious organizations, schools and groups to which they belong. In addition, they are influenced by the media, the cultures in which they are growing up, national, community leaders and world events. As a result, they are partly a product of environmental and social influences.
Bronfenbrenner (1979, 1986, 1994 & 2005) also mentions that the bio-ecological perspective offers insight that can enhance the understanding of families. Bronfenbrenner and Morris (1998) coined the influential bio-ecological theory that describes the range of interacting influences that affect a developing person. Every biological organism develops within the context of ecological systems that support or stifle its growth. The model also provides concepts one can use in crafting empowering relations with families. In addition, it is important to note that in advocacy and support of families, one must use Bronfenbrenner’s constructs with his own caution of “do not harm families”. Significantly, Bronfenbrenner’s approach to understanding families is helpful because it is inclusive of all of the systems in which families are enmeshed and because it reflects the dynamic nature of actual family relations. Thus, it is based on the idea of empowering families through understanding their strengths and needs.
In Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) model, four interacting dimensions are central to the process of adolescent’s development and they include:
person factors (e.g. the temperament of the adolescent or parent)
process factors (e.g. the forms of interaction that occur in a family)
contexts (e.g. families, schools or local communities)
time (e.g. changes over time in the adolescent or the environment)
Proximal interactions are interactions that occur in face- to- face long-term relationships which are important in shaping lasting aspects of development. As a result, proximal interactions are affected by person factors and the social contexts within which they occur. Notably, the adolescent, process and context factors all change over time due to adolescent’s maturation as well as changes in the social contexts themselves. According to Bronfenbrenner (2004) other environments where the adolescent does not spend time can also affect the power of proximal processes to influence development. The concept of proximal interaction is important in understanding the power of reciprocal influences in families, peer groups, classrooms, schools and local communities. Bronfenbrenner and Morris (1998:996) state that the experiences called proximal or near processes that a person has with the people and objects in these settings, are the primary engines of human development.
According to Bronfenbrenner’s model, people’s development is influenced by the social contexts in which they live. Bronfenbrenner (1986) widely quoted model of circles of influence on a person’s development and is also frequently used as a way of conceptualizing the proximate and distal influences. Clearly, the model alerts cultural scripts for child rearing and desired goals.
Bronfenbrenner (1970), Bronfenbrenner and Crouter (1982:39) and Bronfenbrenner, Moen and Garbarino (1984) note that one of the reasons for the relatively higher rates of immoral behaviour amongst people is that to an increasing extent parents have become isolated from their children and from child rearing, without providing adequate substitutes (for example, through the schools, churches, peers or older adolescents, extended family and neighbours)
Bronfenbrenner saw the individual’s experience as a set of nested structures, each inside the next, like a set of Russian dolls (Bronfenbrenner, 1979:22). In studying human development, one has to see within, beyond and across how the several systems interact (family and others). Therefore, the study of the ability of families to access and manage resources across these systems would appear to be a logical extension of his investigations.
Bronfenbrenner’s ecosystem model is divided into five interlocking systems that shape individual development, namely: microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem and chronosystem. The above-mentioned systems as well as their components are discussed in detail in the ensuing sections.

Microsystem

Microsystem together with the components will be discussed in this section. According to Bronfenbrenner (1979:22) microsystem is the immediate setting containing the developing person. Microsystem elements include activity, role and relation. Bronfenbrenner (1994:1645) mentions that the microsystem is viewed as the intimate social, immediate physical environmental setting and refers to the proximal processes. In addition, Bronfenbrenner asserts that a microsystem is a pattern of activities, roles and interpersonal relations experienced by the developing and symbolic features that invite, permit, or inhibit engagement in sustained progressively more complex interaction with, and activity in the immediate environment. Furthermore, Bronfenbrenner (1977:515) describes microsystem as the setting within which the individual is behaving at a given moment in his or her life. Certainly, it is the complex of relations between the developing people and environment in an immediate setting containing the person. Bronfenbrenner and Morris (1998:103) redefine the character of the microsystem to link it to what is described as the centre of gravity which is the bio-psychosocial person within the theory.
Bronfenbrenner (1970) asserts that modelling has some advantages over reinforcement. A larger number of people can be influenced by one carefully selected model, whereas direct reinforcement requires one to one interaction between the teacher and the learner. According to Bronfenbrenner (1995:599-618) microsystem is the innermost level of the environment which refers to activities and interaction patterns in the person’s immediate surroundings. Moreover, Bronfenbrenner emphasizes that, to understand the person’s development at this level, all relationships are bidirectional. Reciprocally, adults affect children’s behaviour while children’s characteristics such as physical attributes, personalities and capacities also affect adult’s behaviour.
Bronfenbrenner (1972) points out that as the person approaches adolescence, social roles and social systems outside the family play an increasing part in shaping his abilities, motives and behaviour. Bronfenbrenner’s pioneer research illustrates how social class and family structure interact to produce differing patterns of sex-role differentiation among parents and children within the family.

TABLE OF CONTENTS 
TITLE PAGE
DECLARATION 
DEDICATION 
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 
ABSTRACT 
DEFINITION OF TERMS 
CHAPTER ONE BACKGROUND TO THE PROBLEM, PROBLEM FORMULATION, AIMS AND METHOD
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.3 AIMS OF THE RESEARCH
1.4 RESEARCH DESIGN
1.5 CLARIFICATION OF TERMS
1.6 CHAPTER DIVISION
1.7 SUMMARY
CHAPTER TWO THEORIES OF MORAL DEVELOPMENT
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 MORAL DEVELOPMENT
2.3 THEORIES OF MORAL DEVELOPMENT
2.4 FACTORS INFLUENCING MORAL DEVELOPMENT
2.5 SUMMARY
CHAPTER THREE ECOSYSTEMIC FACTORS INFLUENCING THE MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF
ADOLESCENTS WITH SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO SOUTH AFRICA
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 BRONFENBRENNER’S ECOSYSTEMIC MODEL AND  ITS APPLICATION TO ADOLESCENTS IN SOUTH AFRICA
3.3 PRACTICAL OPERATIONALIZATION OF  BRONFENBRENNER’S ECOSYSTEMIC MODEL IN
DIFFERENT SETTINGS
3.4 THE BLACK ADOLESCENT IN SOUTH AFRICAN SOCIETY
3.5 THE MICROSYSTEM AND THE BLACK ADOLESCENT
3.6 KEY PROBLEMS OF BLACK ADOLESC ENTS IN  DIFFERENT SETTINGS
3.7 SUMMARY
CHAPTER FOUR RESEARCH DESIGN
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 APPROACH 1
4.3 RESEARCH DESIGN
4.4 DATA COLLECTION
4.5 DATA ANALYSIS
4.6 TRUSTWORTHINESS OF DATA
4.7 RESEARCHER ROLE 152-153 4.8 LIMITATIONS OF THE RESEARCH
4.9 SUMMARY
CHAPTER FIVE DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 GENERAL COMMENTS OF FINDINGS
5.3 PRESENTATION OF MAIN FINDINGS (KEY THEMES,  SUB-THEMES AND CONSTRUCTS)
5.4 COMPARISON AMONG GROUPS

5.5 LINKS TO KEY THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKS
5.6 SUMMARY
CHAPTER SIX SUMMARY OF THE RESEARCH, FINAL CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 OVERVIEW OF THE INVESTIGATION
6.3 KEY FINDINGS
6.4 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT OF PRACTICE
6.5 AREAS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
6.6 LIMITATIONS OF THE RESEARCH
6.7 REFLECTION
6.8 FINAL CONCLUSIONS
REFERENCES 
APPENDIXES
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
THE ROLE OF SOCIAL FACTORS IN INFLUENCING THE MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF BLACK ADOLESCENTS

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