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‘The plague of modern society’: newspapers and popular understanding of stress in late twentieth-century Britain

Jill Kirby
University of Sussex

This paper will discuss the popular discourse of stress in the late twentieth century by examining representation of the concept in a selection of national newspapers and in personal accounts of stress from the Mass Observation Project. In doing so, it illustrates continuity and change in the ways stress was both gendered and associated with social status.

The analysis also reveals how certain categories of worker became particularly associated with the condition and examines what the public and private discourses of stress can tell us about changing attitudes not just to work but to the rapidly evolving economic and social context of Britain at the end of the twentieth century.