Bronfenbrennerwas also among the first theoreticians to underscore the need to take intoaccount both the complex, reciprocal and subtle interactions among eachindividual’s biological and personal characteristics and also the significantsocial and ecological contexts that influence development (Rosa & Tudge,2013). In addition, he identified the intricate interrelations between person,process, context, and time, arguing that more important than the variousecological systems per se, are the transactions and synergies among them. Thisunderstanding contributed greatly to the enduring “nature-nurture” controversyover human development (Sameroff, 2010).
Before 1970, the main concerns of many researchers in the field of humandevelopment was to discover the extent of nature and nurture’s specificinfluences. The 1980’s however saw the nurturist shift, induced by threeadvances in the social science – the war on poverty, the concept of a socialecology, and cultural deconstruction. Where behaviourist research focused onproximal connections between reinforcements and performance, scientists inother social disciplines were arguing that economic circumstance was a majorconstraint on the availability of reinforcements, such that the developmentalenvironments of the poor were deprived in contrast with those of the affluent. Bronfenbrenner(1977) offered a more differentiated model than provided by economics alone.
Heidentified the distal influences of family, school, work, and culture, providinga more comprehensive empirical model for predicting individual differences indevelopment. The emphasis here was on studying how people accommodatethroughout their lives to the changing environments where they grow and live(Clarke-Steward et al., 1985). Hiscontextual model delineated the ways in which dimensions of experience canaugment or constrain human development.
Although we may have a strong desirefor straightforward explanations of life, Bronfenbrenner understood that developmentis complicated and models for explaining it need to be complicated enough tousefully inform our understanding. ProximalProcessessTimeOneof the most enduring contributions this bioecological model has made to thedevelopmental field is the consideration that the human life span is marked bythe presence of relative plasticity and that this element of change isimperative to understanding development. The element of time (micro, meso andmacrotime) was highlighted increasingly during the 1980s, until being formallyattached to the PPCT model in the final phase of the theory’s development. Bronfenbrenner stressed that humandevelopment involves both continuity and progressive in the person’scharacteristics over time and space (1975, 1978, 1979), which signifiescontinuity both in the person and in the environment (1975).
This is asignificant contribution to the field of developmental research as heincorporated both proximal and distal ecological systems, including historicaltime (Tudge, Mokrova, Hatfield, & Karnik, 2009). Further, he identified thekey role of temporal variables (both in ontogenesis and throughout history) indevelopmental processes, highlighting the need for researchers to carry outlongitudinal studies. This emphasis on time within the PPCT saw a shift withinthe field of developmental research, adopting a new, and now the mainstay, researchdesign; longitudinal research