City of men Essay

The City of Men episode titled “Uólace and João Victor” follows a day in the life of two teenage boys living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Uólace lives in the slums of Rio’s favelas, ridden with crime, violence, and poverty. Meanwhile, João Victor lives perched above in his modest apartment overlooking the very same favela Uólace navigates every day. The social stratification in Rio de Janeiro, classified by race, gender, and class, create systems of inequality, which can be seen in the very different lives of Uólace and João Victor. While the dramatic socioeconomic disparity between the two is apparent, they also share very similar experiences in their everyday lives. Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Model can be applied to the lives of the two boys to understand how interactions between them and their environments influence their growth and development. The Ecological Systems Model demonstrates how children develop within a complex system of relationships, which are affected by nested layers within their environments (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2006). The microsystem is the innermost layer of the environment, which encompasses a child’s activities and interaction within their immediate surroundings, such as immediate family, neighborhood, childcare, and school. The way microsystems interact with each other is called the mesosystem. Relationships at microsystem level are strongly emphasized to be bidirectional, meaning that people can affect a child’s behavior, and a child can affect their behavior (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2006). Uólace and João Victor are only children in their families, and they were both raised by their single mothers. Although they have a similar backstory, the ways they were each raised differ greatly. Inconsistency is a recurring theme in Uólace’s life that seems to weigh heavily on his shoulders. Uólace lives a natural childhood, in which his “half a mother” is rarely present, causing him to assume great responsibility to take care of himself and to navigate the world around him on his own. From breakfast to dinner, Uólace is on his own, and with little money, he scrambles to find anything to eat. Uólace is also faced with an unstable education as his school is once again on strike. With inadequate schooling, he has less of an opportunity to learn fundamental knowledge necessary for the development of future skills and appropriate behavior. Family–school interaction in the mesosystem play an integral role in a child’s success in the classroom, as “academic progress depends not just on activities that take place in the classrooms but also on parent involvement in school life” (Gershoff & Aber, 2006). Uólace’s family–school interaction is almost entirely absent as he receives little support from school and at home. He also lacks a stimulating family–neighborhood interaction as he is unable to participate in enriching activities, such as sports or music, which could adversely affect his school performance and behavior (Peters, Petrunka, & Arnold, 2003; Vandell & Posner, 1999; Vandell, Reisner, & Pierce, 2007).

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