Exploring the link between globalisation and stress

A direct relationship exists between stress and globalisation – i.e. transnational corporations and transnational economics – according to a recent study published in the Pertanika Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities.

The study, by an international research team in Thailand and Canada, analysed the relationship between globalisation and stress in a sample group of Thai farm workers. Eight years ago, the Thai government began mapping social protection strategies for various occupational groups including rural agricultural workers. Earlier studies had shown that agricultural workers accounted for the highest percentage of all workers, and that more than 30% of them were in debt.

Globalisation, also defined as global capitalism, is a well-known dynamic of the twenty-first century. Its effects on health are complex and depend on a variety of factors, including income distribution and the presence (or absence) of resources to support physical and mental health.

In the study, the researchers developed a survey based on the hypothesis that a number of factors – including fewer landowners, increased control of scientific management, and increased integration of local and global markets impacting the prices of agricultural goods – has resulted in stress among Thai rural workers.

The survey involved 600 rural workers from different areas of Nakhon Pathom province in central Thailand. All the workers were in transition from an existing production system to a new one. Levels of perceived stress were measured using a test developed by the Department of Mental Health in Thailand.

The results showed a direct relationship between transnational corporations or translational economics (an umbrella term that broadly describes the economic clout of multinational companies) and stress. The survey also reported that 75% of the respondents had poor health, with stress appearing to be their most frequent illness. The researchers noted that transnational practices, which are associated with mass media practices such as advertising, did not have a direct effect on stress.

The authors recommend that further studies be conducted involving farmers in other Asian countries to confirm the relationship between stress and globalisation, and that levels of stress due to other factors (e.g., family/personal factors and/or drug use etc.) should also be assessed.

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