Social stratification, social closure and social class as determinants of mental health disparities

Carles Muntaner, Edwin Ng, Christophe Vanroelen, Sharon Christ, William W. Eaton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


We review two major strands of sociological theory to understand causal processes relevant to the generation of social inequalities and the production of parallel mental health disparities. The first strand, known as the social stratification model, includes gradational measures of socioeconomic status and draws upon Weber’s idea of ‘life chances’. The second strand includes two relational processes: the Neo-Weberian idea of ‘social closure’, understood in terms credentialism and unequal control over economic resources, and the Neo-Marxian concept of social class, conceptualized as relations of ownership and control over productive assets. We also review classic and recent studies in the extant literature, discuss the interrelationships among social inequalities, race, ethnicity, and gender, and consider social causation and social selection hypotheses to interpret social inequalities and mental disorders findings. In closing, we identify directions for future research in order to address outstanding issues in mental health disparities scholarship.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of the Sociology of Mental Health. Second Edition
EditorsCarol S. Aneshensel, Jo C. Phelan, Alex Bierman
Place of PublicationDordrecht
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)978-94-007-4275-8
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • social stratification
  • mental health

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