Free agents or cogs in the machine? Classed, gendered, and racialized inequities in hazardous working conditions

By Jerzy Eisenberg-Guyot, Seth J. Prins, Carles Muntaner in Class conflict and public health

November 18, 2021


November 18, 2021


12:00 AM



Few epidemiologic studies have used relational social class measures based on control over productive assets and others' labor to analyze inequities in health-affecting working conditions. Moreover, these studies have often neglected the gendered and racialized dimensions of class relations, dimensions which are essential to understanding population patterns of health inequities. Our study fills these gaps.


Using data from the 2002–2018 U.S. General Social Survey, we assigned respondents to the worker, manager, petit bourgeois, or capitalist classes based on their supervisory authority and self-employment status. Next, we estimated class, class-by-gender, and class-by-race inequities in compensation/safety, the labor process, control, and conflict, using Poisson models. We also estimated gender-by-race inequities among workers.


We identified substantial class inequities, with worse conditions for workers, which is the largest class within genders and racialized groups, but also disproportionately consists of women and people of color (POC), particularly women of color (WOC). For example, relative to workers, capitalists were less likely to report that safety is not a priority (prevalence ratio [PR]: 0.41, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.21, 0.82), repetitive tasks (PR: 0.36, 95% CI: 0.21, 0.61), and lacking freedom (PR: 0.11, 95% CI: 0.05, 0.24). We also identified inequities among workers, with women and POC, particularly WOC, reporting worse conditions than white male workers, especially greater discrimination/harassment (WOC PR: 1.70, 95% CI: 1.36, 2.13).


We identified substantial inequities in working conditions across intersecting classes, genders, and racialized groups. These inequities threaten workers' health, particularly among women and POC.

Posted on:
November 18, 2021
2 minute read, 248 words
Class conflict and public health
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