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Stress and masculinity: the psychosocial health of men on low income

By Steven Anelay


This study has a dual focus. Firstly it explores the relevance of 'masculinities' (as a problematic and contested term) to individual men, and in the process of examining their psychosocial health status it investigates how masculinities shaped their willingness to report and/or seek help for psychosocial health problems. Secondly, it highlights the ways in which poor material circumstances, associated with men's relatively low income levels, combined with masculinities to shape their perceptions and responses to material sources of stress. Thus, the study makes an original contribution to knowledge in the fields of both 'masculinities' and inequalities in men's health. In exploring these issues the study draws on insights from the men and masculinities literature, 'psychosocial' approaches to health inequality, especially those that have drawn on the concept of 'social stress', and also from 'realist' social theory. These insights inform the development of an holistic approach to social stress which underpins the subsequent analysis of qualitative data obtained during the course of thirty-four semi-structured interviews with men from Coventry in the West Midlands who were either in full-time but low-paid employment, or who had been unemployed for one year or more. The findings of the study suggest that masculinities do have relevance to an understanding of men's health, and that they combine with men's income levels and their work status to shape their willingness to admit and/or seek help for psychosocial health problems, whilst also shaping their experiences and responses to sources of stress in a range of different ways

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