Personal Relative Deprivation: A Look at the Grievous Consequences of Grievance



Stouffer et al. (1949) have first coined the term ‘relative deprivation’ to account for unexpected grievance expressed by members of a fortunate group. Many researchers have built on this work and have concluded that a person's feeling of deprivation is relative rather than absolute. In other words, deprivation stems from a social comparison with better-off persons. In this chapter, a brief summary of the ground-breaking research on relative deprivation is presented followed by an overview of research on overt and covert responses to personal relative deprivation. In accounting for the silent reactions of the underprivileged, we mainly focus on recent research linking personal relative deprivation to psychological disengagement. Turning to the responses of members of privileged groups, we take into account personal relative deprivation and gratification. Our concluding remarks suggest that responses of both the underprivileged and the privileged concur to the maintenance of the status quo.