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Towards a critical ecology of child development in social work: aligning the theories of Bronfenbrenner and Bourdieu

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Bronfenbrenner's model of bio-ecological development has been utilised widely within the social sciences, in the field of human development, and in social work. Yet, while championing the rights of marginalised families and communities, Bronfenbrenner had under-theorised the role of power, agency and structure in shaping the 'person–context' interrelationship, life opportunities and social wellbeing. To respond to this deficit, this article first outlines Bronfenbrenner's 'person, process, context and time' model. It then seeks to loosely align aspects of Bronfenbrenner's model with Bourdieu's analytical categories of habitus, field and capital. It is argued that these latter categories enable social workers to develop a critical ecology of child development, taking account of power and the interplay between agency and structure. The implications of the alignment for child and family social work are considered in the final section.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: March 2017

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