Developmental Contextualism and the Developmental Systems Perspective

  • Richard M. Lerner
  • Elizabeth E. Sparks
  • Laurie D. McCubbin
Part of the Outreach Scholarship book series (OUTR, volume 2)


Developmental contextualism (Lerner, 1986, 1991, 1995, 1998b) is an instance of a theoretical orientation to human development termed “developmental systems theory” (Ford & Lerner, 1992; Sameroff, 1983; Thelen & Smith, 1998). Developmental contextualism has its roots in the multidisciplinary and multiprofessional field of home economics (Lerner & Miller, 1993; Miller & Lerner, 1994), a field now labeled family and consumer sciences. In addition, developmental systems theory, generally, and developmental contextualism, more specifically, have emerged within the current study of human development as representing important, and arguably key, theoretical orientations within the field because of their “co-evolution” with the life-span view of human development (Baltes, 1987; Baltes, Lindenberger, & Staudinger, 1998), the life-course study of human development (Elder, 1974, 1980, 1998), and the ecological view of human development (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Bronfenbrenner & Crouter, 1983; Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998).


Human Development Developmental System Family Diversity Family Policy Contemporary Theory 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard M. Lerner
    • 1
  • Elizabeth E. Sparks
    • 2
  • Laurie D. McCubbin
    • 3
  1. 1.Tufts UniversityMedfordUSA
  2. 2.Boston CollegeUSA
  3. 3.University of Wisconsin-MadisonUSA

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