Messengers of Stress : Towards a cortisol sociology

Roberts, Celia and McWade, Brigit (2021) Messengers of Stress : Towards a cortisol sociology. Sociology of Health and Illness, 43 (4). pp. 895-909. ISSN 0141-9889

[thumbnail of Messenger_of_Stress_final_2020rev12.20]
Text (Messenger_of_Stress_final_2020rev12.20)
Messenger_of_Stress_final_2020rev12.20.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial.

Download (269kB)


In 2008, Timmermans and Haas called for a sociology of disease to develop and challenge the sociology of health and illness. A sociology of disease, they argued, would take seriously the biological and physiological processes of disease in theorising health and illness. Building on two decades of Science and Technology Studies and feminist work on biological actors such as hormones and genes, we propose a cortisol sociology to push further at this argument. As a ‘messenger of stress,’ cortisol is key to understanding human and non-human health as a biosocial phenomenon. We argue that sociologists should engage with cortisol through critical yet open-minded reading of the relevant science and critical triangulation studies, and by tracking cortisol’s movements from science into public worlds of biosensing and self-monitoring.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Sociology of Health and Illness
Additional Information:
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Roberts, C. and McWade, B. (2021), Messengers of stress: Towards a cortisol sociology. Sociol Health Illn, 43: 895-909. doi: 10.1111/1467-9566.13261 which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? sociologycortisolstresshormonesbiosocialbiosensingself-trackinghealth(social science)public health, environmental and occupational healthhealth policy ??
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
01 Jun 2022 15:15
Last Modified:
07 Feb 2024 00:57