Chapter

Handbook of the Sociology of Mental Health

Part of the series Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research pp 379-402

Date:

The Sense of Personal Control: Social Structural Causes and Emotional Consequences

  • Catherine E. RossAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Population Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin Email author 
  • , John MirowskyAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Population Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin

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Abstract

The sense of personal control is the cognitive link between social structural conditions and emotional distress. The sense of personal control is the perception that one’s life is shaped by one’s own efforts and actions. Perceived control versus powerlessness is the cognitive imprint of structured inequality, disadvantage, and objective powerlessness, including socioeconomic status and its elements (educational attainment, work, and income); gender, age, neighborhoods, and race/ethnicity. A low sense of personal control in turn leads to depression, anxiety, and anger.

Keywords

personal control social inequality socioeconomic status psychological distress