The Uneven Stress of Social Change: Disruptions, Disparities, and Mental Health

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11 Scopus citations


As the COVID-19 pandemic underscores, disparities in stress exposure, vulnerability, and protective resources are often magnified in times of rapid change. I argue that Leonard Pearlin’s integration of life course and stress process frameworks constitutes a useful model for advancing a research agenda on the stressors and corollary mental health impacts of the social disruptions and dislocations defining life in the early twenty-first century. Social changes interrupt life paths and produce potentially stressful circumstances at particular time points in biographies already defined, shaped, and constrained at the intersections of race, class, nativity, age, and gender. Critical for both science and policy development is a mental health research agenda on the nature and consequences of the uneven stresses of social changes as they play out at different life course stages in disparate ways depending on people’s intersecting social locations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-98
Number of pages14
JournalSociety and Mental Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported by NSF#2032639 and NSF#2049125, as well as the UMN Life Course Center (NIA: P30AG066613).

Publisher Copyright:
© American Sociological Association 2022.


  • control cycles
  • intersectionality
  • life course
  • social change
  • stress


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