‘Self-referenced’ relative deprivation and economic beliefs: the effects of the recession in Alberta*

Authors


  • *

    Useful comments on an earlier version of this paper were provided by J. Paul Crayson, Tom Langford, and several anonymous reviewers for this journal. As part of a class assignment, graduate students in the 1989 Quantitative Research Methods course in the Department of Sociology, University of Alberta, analysed and interpreted some of the data reported in this paper. Their insights undoubtedly influenced the subsequent development of this paper and must be acknowledged. This manuscript was received in February 1991 and accepted in October 1991.

Abstract

Dans cette communication, les auteurs examinent un modèle théorique selon lequel le sentiment de vivre une privation relative joue un rôle important dans la traduction de l'expérience de difficultés économiques en une ‘idéologie économique’ plus à gauche sur le spectre des options politiques. Les données de l'enquête révèlent que les Albertains qui ont dû réduire leurs dépenses en raison de la récession du milieu des années 1980 avaient effectivement plus tendance à s'associer à des énoncés affirmant la nécessité d'une redistribution de la richesse au sein de la société. Ces relations ont été observées chez des répondants appartenant à la classe ouvrière mais non chez des répondants appartenant à la classe moyenne.

This paper tests a theoretical model proposing that feelings of relative deprivation play an important part in translating the experience of economic hard times into more left-leaning economic beliefs. Survey data reveal that Albertans who had been forced to cut back on expenditures because of the recession of the mid-1980s were more likely to agree with statements about the need for a redistribution of wealth in society. This pattern of relationships was observed among members of the working class but not within the middle class.

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