Exploring history in the social ecology of care leaving: Northern Ireland as illustration

John Pinkerton - Child & Family Social Work


This paper aims to promote thinking about care leave leaving from a historical perspective. It suggests that Bronfenbrenner's social ecological modelling of human development provides a promising conceptual framework for doing that. It not only provides a micro to macro layered systemic perspective but also draws attention to the ‘chronosystem’, covering both biographical and historical changes. The potential use of the historical dimension to Bronfenbrenner's modelling will be illustrated by considering the development of care leaving within Northern Ireland over a 50‐year period (1968–2018). Reflecting the historical trajectory of recent political conflict in this UK jurisdiction, the dynamics of the chronosystem of care leaving within two periods will be described and discussed: the ‘Troubles’ (1968–1998) and ‘Post Conflict’ (1998–2018). It will be concluded that there is a need for further work of this type because acknowledging history in this way as part of social ecology provides a deeper understanding of the systemic dynamics of care leaving.