Social Stress in the United States: Links to Regional Patterns in Crime and Illness

Social Stress in the United States: Links to Regional Patterns in Crime and Illness

Social Stress in the United States: Links to Regional Patterns in Crime and Illness

Social Stress in the United States: Links to Regional Patterns in Crime and Illness

Synopsis

In this pioneering study, sociologists develop a State Stress Index that provides a quantitative measure of stress for each state and region in the United States.

Excerpt

Both scholars and lay people have been attracted to the idea of stress and its role in the etiology of illness and maladaptive behavior. When Norman Scotch and I were preparing to study life stress among subjects in the Framingham Heart Study, we first carried out open-ended interviews with researchers and lay people to learn what specific types of stress they thought might contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease. What impressed us particularly was that the idea of stress was salient to everyone, with each person subscribing to some type of causal model.

When Sydney Croog and I were studying over 400 men who had experienced their first heart attack, we were surprised to learn that an overwhelming proportion of them unhesitatingly attributed their heart attack to stress or worries on the job or in the home. Patients were quick to describe such stressors as having an unsympathetic superior or colleague, excessive work loads, or perennial problems with children. It would seem, then, that the sociologist's task as teacher or investigator of stress is a relatively easy one.

On closer inspection, however, the quick receptivity to the idea of stress displayed by many lay people and behavioral scientists is generally confined to the psychological level. People easily resonate to the importance of such traumatic life events as the death of a spouse or the loss of a job, so well developed and amplified by Holmes and Rahe. But as we move from the personal psychological experience to the larger social-structural realm where the sociologist may make distinctive contributions, the task of conceptualization and instruction becomes more challenging.

The authors point out the limitations in the individualistic emphasis which has characterized much research on stress. They direct our attention to the importance of social organization in generating stress and in influencing responses to stress. They are to . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.