Social Change in Mongolia and South Africa: The Impact of Relative Deprivation Trajectory and Group Status on Well-Being and Adjustment to Change

Abstract

During times of profound social change, people’s psychological well-being is related to their assessment of their path from the past to the future [temporal relative deprivation (RD)]. A first survey conducted in Mongolia (n = 480) and data from a representative population survey conducted in South Africa (n = 2,711) are used to explore whether the status of one’s group during a time of dramatic social change moderates the relationship between temporal RD and well-being. Black South Africans and Mongolians (low-status group members) reported the highest well-being if they reported RD levels would decrease over time (even higher than group members who reported low but steady levels of RD). However, White South Africans (high-status group members) reported the lowest levels of well-being if they reported high and steady levels of RD (even in comparison with group members who reported that RD levels would increase over time). The implications of these different patterns and directions for future research are proposed.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Four main racial groups are represented in South Africa: African (Blacks), White, Colored and Asian/Indian. These labels are widely used by the government, as well as by South Africans themselves (Lehohla, 2009). In South Africa, groups are not homogenous. In the present paper, we focus on Africans and Whites English who represent consensually defined low- and high-status groups, respectively.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to our participants who took the time to fill out our surveys. We also want to thank Vincent Williams, Fabrice Pinard Saint-Pierre, Thomas Marsh, Diana Cárdenas, and Sarah Gaham for their comments at various stage of this paper. Funding for Study 1 was provided by the Civic Education Project and FQRSC and for Study 2 by the SSHRC and CIDA.

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Correspondence to Roxane de la Sablonnière.

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de la Sablonnière, R., Tougas, F., Taylor, D.M. et al. Social Change in Mongolia and South Africa: The Impact of Relative Deprivation Trajectory and Group Status on Well-Being and Adjustment to Change. Soc Just Res 28, 102–122 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11211-015-0236-8

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Keywords

  • Social change
  • Well-being
  • Resilience
  • Relative deprivation
  • Status