ETHNICITY AND STRESS PERCEPTIONS
Ghosh, E.S.K. and Kohli, N., University of Allahabad, India
In recent years, a large number of studies have demonstrated the linkages between ethnicity, social disadvantage, social class and stress experience. Most of the studies have been conducted in developed countries where the stressors are generally represented by relatively more structured and formalised conditions of living. Very few studies have addressed themselves to societies in transition from tradition to modernisation. In such societies, social change and modernisation frequently conflicts with pre- established social hierarchies. The authors have conducted some studies, which indicate that stress experience is also related to subjectively experienced collective identities derived from ethnic group membership. Results from earlier studies conducted in India investigating reactions to frustrations of high-caste and low-caste subjects showed significant differences in the patterns of reactions obtained. While the high caste subjects showed more ego-defensive reactions, the low-caste subjects showed more need-persistent problem solving patterns of reactions to frustrating situations. It is therefore proposed, that the relationship between stress experience and ethnicity, ethnic group identity, social advantage/disadvantage, need to be investigated afresh. Comparisons between ethnic groups within any given social context ought to refer to the social position occupied by groups when analysing the levels of the stress experienced and its consequence. More specifically, it seems there is a need to generate more testable hypothesis (ideas) for designing studies cross-culturally, in which the role of social hierarchies of both tradition and non-traditional societies can be understood in relation to the stress experienced by different ethnic and social group members.