This chapter differentiates the stressful consequences of social organization from the stressful antecedents of psychological disorder. The pivotal distinction concerns whether the occurrence of stressors is viewed as socially determined, or as independent of social placement. Recent research is evaluated concerning both the social distribution of stress and social variation in response to stress. Two particularly productive areas of inquiry are also reviewed: self-efficacy as a mediator between social position and stress; and the intersection of macro- and micro-stress processes in economic and occupational spheres, with emphasis upon gender stratification. This review concludes that the occurrence of systemic stressors is not necessarily an indication of a social system run amok but may reflect instead the system functioning precisely as it is supposed to function.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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