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The privatisation of stress

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It is not surprising that people who live in conditions where their hours and pay can always be increased or decreased, and their terms of employment are extremely tenuous, experience anxiety, depression and hopelessness. Workers have been persuaded to accept such deteriorating conditions as 'natural', and to look inward – into their brain chemistry or into their personal history – for the sources of any stress they may be feeling. This privatisation of stress has become just one more taken-for-granted dimension of a seemingly depoliticised world. 'Capitalist realism' is the term used to describe this ideological field. It refers to the belief that there is no alternative to capitalism. The privatisation of stress has played a crucial role in its emergence. This article suggests that the recent upsurge in militancy in the UK, particularly amongst the young, suggests that the privatisation of stress is breaking down: in place of a medicated individual depression, we are now seeing explosions of public anger.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 15, 2011

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