Neighborhood as a Social Context of the Stress Process
A fundamental objective of the stress process model is to explain the connection between low social status and high levels of psychological distress and disorder (Pearlin 1989, 1999; Pearlin et al. 1981). This goal has been realized, in part, through the elaboration of the connection between exposure to stressors and status locations within various institutions and social arrangements – education, occupation, economy, gender, and race/ethnicity. In addition, the model articulates the role of low social status in limiting access to psychosocial resources that might otherwise ameliorate the adverse mental health impact of exposure to stress.
Applications of the model that emphasize social status generally treat social status as an attribute of the individual, for example, the person’s educational attainment. However, Wheaton and Clarke (2003) call attention to the relevance of contextual social inequality to the stress process, conceptualizing inequality as existing across multiple layers of the social hierarchy. In addition, Pearlin’s (1999) recent formulations of the stress process model also call attention to the importance of context, accentuating the neighborhood in particular. In this regard, neighborhood socioeconomic disadvantage can be conceptualized as a meso-level indicator of the stratification of neighborhoods that intensifies exposure to stressors and restricts access to social psychological resources, thereby damaging health and emotional well-being.
In this chapter, I review research linking neighborhood to domains of the stress process and then describe an ecological model built around the idea that the mental health impact of the neighborhood may be conditional upon the person’s social status, exposure to stress, and access to psychosocial resources.
KeywordsDepression Income Schizophrenia Stratification Posit
- Aneshensel, C. S., & Sucoff, C. A. (2002). Neighborhood and adolescent health: Structure and experience. Socioeconomic conditions, stress, and mental disorders: Toward a new synthesis of research and public policy (pp. 41-77). Mental Health Statistical Improvement Program; Center for Mental Health Services in the Substance Abuse and Health Services Administration. http://www.mhsip.org/nimhdoc/socioeconmh_home.htm.
- Aneshensel, C. S., Wight, R. G., Miller-Martinez, D., Botticello, A. L., Karlamangla, A. S., & Seeman, T. E. (2007). Urban neighborhoods and depressive symptoms among older adults. Journals of Gerontology Series B-Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 62, S52–S59.Google Scholar
- Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Diez Roux, A. V. (2003). The examination of neighborhood effects on health: Conceptual and methodological issues related to the presence of multiple levels of organization. In I. Kawachi & L. Berkman (Eds.), Neighborhoods and health. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.Google Scholar
- Earls, F. J., Brooks-Gunn, J., Raudenbush, S. W., & Sampson, R. J. (1997). Project on human development in Chicago neighborhoods: Community survey, 1994–1995. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research.Google Scholar
- Faris, & Dunham, H. W. (1939). Mental disorders in urban areas: An ecological study of schizophrenia and other psychoses. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Henderson, C., Roux, A. V. D., Jacobs, D. R., Kiefe, C. I., West, D., & Williams, D. R. (2005). Neighbourhood characteristics, individual level socioeconomic factors, and depressive symptoms in young adults: the CARDIA study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 59, 322–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hybels, C. F., Blazer, D. G., Pieper, C. F., Burchett, B. M., Hays, J. C., Fillenbaum, G. G., et al. (2006). Sociodemographic characteristics of the neighborhood and depressive symptoms in older adults: Using multilevel modeling in geriatric psychiatry. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 14, 498–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Jencks, C., & Mayer, S. (1990). The social consequences of growing up in a poor neighborhood. In L. E. Lynn & M. G. H. McGeary (Eds.), Inner-city poverty in the United States (pp. 111–185). Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
- Jessor, R. (1993). Successful adolescent development among youth in high-risk settings. American Psychologist. Special Issue: Adolescence, 48, 117–126.Google Scholar
- Lawton, M. P. (1982). Competence, environmental press, and the adaptation of older people. In M. P. Lawton, P. G. Windley & T. O. Byerts (Eds.), Aging and the environment (pp. 33–59). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
- Macintyre, S., & Ellaway, A. (2003). Neighborhoods and health: An overview. In I. Kawachi & L. Berkman (Eds.), Neighborhoods and health. (pp. 20–42). New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.Google Scholar
- Massey, D., & Denton, N. (1993). American apartheid: Segregation and the making of the underclass. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Pearlin, L. I. (1999). The stress process revisited: Reflections on concepts and their interrelationships. In C. S. Aneshensel & J. C. Phelan (Eds.), Handbook of the sociology of mental health (pp. 395–414). New York: Kluwer.Google Scholar
- Schieman, S., & Meersman, S. C. (2004). Neighborhood problems and health among older adults: Received and donated social support and the sense of mastery as effect modifiers. Journals of Gerontology Series B-Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 59, S89–S97.Google Scholar
- Subramanian, S. V., Jones, K., & Duncan, C. (2003). Multilevel methods for public health research. In I. Kawachi & L. Berkman (Eds.), Neighborhoods and health. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.Google Scholar
- Wheaton, B. (1994). Sampling the stress universe. In W. Avison & I. Gotlib (Eds.), Stress and mental health: Contemporary issues and prospects for the future (pp. 77–114). New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
- Wight, R. G., Ko, M., Karlamangla, A. S., & Aneshensel, C. S. (2009). Urban neighborhoods and depressive symptoms in late middle age. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 35B, 247.251.Google Scholar
- Wilson, W. J. (1987). The truly disadvantaged: The inner city, the underclass, and public policy. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar