Social status : a state of mind?

Abstract: This thesis is concerned with social stratification of psychosocial factors and social position measurement in population samples collected in mid-Sweden 2000-2006. Traditional resource-based measures of social position (occupation, education) and so far less explored prestige-based measures (subjective status, status incongruence) are tested with respect to their associations with psychosocial factors, emotions, and selfrated health. Three papers in this thesis are based on data from the Life Conditions, Stress, and Health (LSH) study, using a randomly selected population sample. Data for the fourth paper is a regional sample drawn from the health-related survey “Liv och Hälsa 2000”. Statistical methods range from correlation analysis to logistic regression and repeated measures analyses.Results from studies I and IV show that psychosocial factors are unequally distributed within the population in a linear manner, so that the lower the socioeconomic position (SEP), the more unfavourable levels. This is independent of whether we study this in a highly unequal setting such as Russia, or in a more egalitarian society such as Sweden. The stability of psychometric instruments over two years tend to be lower for all instruments among low SEP groups, and differ significantly for self-esteem and perceived control among groups with high and low education, and for cynicism among groups with high and low occupational status. Results from studies II and III point to the relevance of individuals’ own thoughts about themselves, and the potential impact on the self by normative judgements of social position in a certain hierarchical setting. In paper II, the prestige-based measure of subjective status was influenced by resource-based measures, such as self-rated economy and education, but also by life satisfaction and psychosocial factors. The importance of self-evaluation was especially obvious from the study on status incongruence (study III) where the traditionally protective effecs of a high education seem to disappear when combined with a lowstatus occupation. Shaming experiences may play an important role here for our understanding of self-perception.