How does capitalism make us anxious and depressed? Our work explores how the social division and structure of labor influences population mental health. We draw on social theory to better operationalize social factors as dynamic relational processes rather than individual attributes.
Social epidemiology’s traditional measures of socioeconomic status, like income and education, are the downstream outcomes of dynamic social processes, and do not shed light on the mechanisms generating social stratification in the first place. Our work looks upstream to such mechanisms, specifically economic exploitation and domination.
Our research finds that unconcealed exploitation (not being paid for productive hours) is associated with mental illness; that people in contradictory class locations suffer higher rates of depression and anxiety; and that occupations with lower autonomy, authority, and expertise, and higher automation, are associated with mental illness and substance use.