American Sociological Association

Why and How Inequality Matters

In this article, I share some thoughts about how we might extend the study of mental health inequalities by drawing from key insights in sociology and sociological social psychology about the nature of inequality and the processes through which it is produced, maintained, and resisted. I suggest several questions from sociological research on stratification that could help us understand unexpected patterns of mental health inequalities. I also advocate for the analysis of "generic" social psychological processes through which inequalities are produced, maintained, and resisted within proximate social environments. I consider the role of two such processes—status/devaluation processes and identity processes—in mental health inequalities. I then discuss how we can strengthen connections across subfields of the sociology of mental health by applying status and identity theories to two areas of research: (1) help-seeking and (2) the effects of mental health problems on social attainments.


McLeod, J. D.





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