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Keywords:

  • race relations;
  • relative deprivation;
  • intergroup attitudes;
  • realistic conflict theory;
  • symbolic racism theory;
  • apertheid;
  • South Africa's transition;
  • democratic change

When an oppressed majority finally gains political power, what happens to its attitudes to its erstwhile oppressor, and to its perceptions and feelings about its socioeconomic disadvantages that were established during its oppression? Longitudinal data from pre- and post-transition surveys of black South African college and high school students indicate marked reductions in perceptions of and outrage about intergroup socioeconomic inequity and deprivation relative to English-speaking and Afrikaans-speaking whites, but no change in attitudes toward these groups or toward whites in general. The findings are discussed in terms of contemporary theory and research on justice, intergroup relations, and group conflict. Some tentative implications for the prospects for a democratic political culture in South Africa are noted.