4 - Relative Deprivation and Intergroup Attitudes: South Africa before and after the Transition  pp. 69-90

Relative Deprivation and Intergroup Attitudes: South Africa before and after the Transition

By John Duckitt and Thobi Mphuthing

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In May 1994, South Africa's first democratic election marked a dramatic transfer of political power from the White minority to the long subjugated Black majority. This provided a unique opportunity to investigate several critical questions about the interaction of sociopolitical change and intergroup relations. In this chapter we report on one such set of questions: how this political transition influenced Africans' perceptions of relative deprivation to Whites, their attitudes to Whites and their ethnic ingroup, and whether changes in relative deprivation causally affected group attitudes, as relative deprivation theorists have long argued.

Prior to the transition in 1994, South Africa was characterized by massive and long standing socioeconomic inequalities between White and Black. From 1917 to 1980, the distribution of personal per capita income showed relatively little change, with Whites earning ten times more than Africans and four to five times more than the Apartheid-designated Asian and Coloured Black minorities. In 1978, South Africa was found to have the most unequal distribution of income of all 57 countries surveyed by the Second Carnegie Commission into Poverty and Development in South Africa, generating a Gini coefficient of no less than .66 (Gini coefficients can vary between 0, where incomes are perfectly evenly distributed, and 1, with most Western countries having coefficients between .20 and .35) (Odén, Ohlson, Davidson, Strand, Lundahl, & Moritz, 1994).