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J Health Soc Behav. 2003 Sep;44(3):442-55.

A research agenda for the black middle class: work stress, survival strategies, and mental health.

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  • 1Indiana University, Department of Sociology, Ballantine Hall-744, Bloomington, IN 47401, USA.


In this article we discuss the social position of the black middle class and two forms of work stress that appear unique to this group: token stress and social rejection. We outline a research agenda for studying: (1) the relationship between these stressors and mental health in the context of the work environment, and (2) the type of strategies that appear especially efficacious (or problematic) with regard to these problems. We begin the paper with a contextual discussion of the black middle class. We then offer a set of theoretical predictions about the relationship between work stress and mental health among middle class African Americans. We conclude the article with recommendations for future research, and we identify the implications of the research agenda for social policy efforts to diversify the workplace.

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