Ecological Framework

Susan P. Kemp

in Social Work

ISBN: 9780195389678
Published online December 2009 | | DOI:
Ecological Framework

Show Summary Details


Ecology, the study of the relationships between organisms and their environments, is a vibrant interdisciplinary field encompassing both the natural and the social sciences. In the social sciences, ecological theories, research, and intervention models focus on the complex, dynamic, and reciprocal relationships between human organisms and a range of environmental contexts, from family and immediate milieu to larger sociocultural, political, and institutional arrangements. Conceptually, the ecological framework is a broad, overarching paradigm or metatheory, bridging several fields of theory and research, and orienting practitioners and researchers to the importance of integrative, multilevel, and multidimensional approaches to person-environment relationships. Despite concerns that it is overly abstract and difficult to operationalize and use systematically in practice, the ecological (or ecological systems) framework has been widely influential, informing a range of practice and research applications and a growing interdisciplinary body of research literature. In social work, three lines of ecological inquiry have been particularly influential: sociological and community psychological approaches to community research and human ecology, theories and models grounded in general systems and ecological theories, and applications of Urie Bronfenbrenner’s developmental ecological theory. Recently, interest has been growing in holistic, justice-centered, and non-Western ecological frameworks. This bibliographic summary provides guidance on theoretical and applied work in these four areas, focusing primarily on developments since the 1970s. In addition to social work resources, materials are included that point readers to promising developments in ecological science in neighboring disciplines, including community, developmental, and environmental psychology; public health; geography; urban planning; and landscape architecture.

Article.  9369 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.