Relative deprivation theory: An overview and conceptual critique


Stevenson College, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA


The theory of relative deprivation (RD) offers an instructive special case of Tajfel's CIC theory. Six focal issues characterize the current state of RD theory: (1) the egoistic–fraternalistic distinction, (2) measurement level, (3) the cognitive–affective distinction, (4) the absolute–relative distinction, (5) specification of the referent, and (6) specification of the compared dimensions. Each issue is discussed and possible resolutions suggested.