Someone is labeled as deprived if he/she is underprivileged in a material or immaterial way. A person will be relatively deprived if he/she feels anger or dissatisfaction because of his/her discrimination in relation to the better situated others. Relative deprivation is, in short, the perceived discrepancy between personal status and the status of some relevant other(s). Without using the concept of quality of life explicitly, the concept of relative deprivation is described from the beginning in terms of quality of life substantially.
Relative deprivation theory is a widely discussed field of contemporary sociology. A common assumption of this field of research is the fact that the feeling of being disadvantaged is related to a reference group. This feeling will arise from the comparison of oneself to others.
Relative deprivation theory is based on...
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Atkinson, A. B., Cantillon, B., Marlier, E., & Nolan, B. (2002). Indicators for social inclusion in the European Union. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Buunk, B. P., Collins, R. L., Taylor, S. E., VanYperen, N. W., & Dakof, G. A. (1999). The affective consequences of social comparison: Either direction has its ups and downs. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 34, 366–375.
Crosby, F. (1984). Relative deprivation in organizational settings. Research in Organizational Behaviour, 6, 51–93.
Eurostat. (2010). Combating poverty and social exclusion. A statistical portrait of the European Union 2010. Luxembourg: Publication Office of the European Union.
Griffin, D. R. (1988). Spirituality and society: Postmodern visions. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Hagenaars, A. (Ed.). (1986). The perception of poverty. Amsterdam: North-Holland.
Kendall, D. (2011). Sociology in our times. Wadsworth: Cengage Learning.
Merton, R., Kitt, A. (1950). Contributions to the theory of reference group behavior. In R. Merton, & P. Lazarsfeld (Hg.), Continuities in social research. Studies in the scope and method of “The American Soldier” (pp. 40–105). Glencoe: The Free Press.
Runciman, W. (1966). Relative deprivation and social justice: A study of attitudes to social inequality in twentieth-century England. London: Routledge/Kegan Paul.
Smith, R. H. (2000). Assimilative and contrastive emotional reactions to upward and downward social comparison. In J. Suls & L. Wheeler (Eds.), Handbook of social comparison. Theory and research (pp. 173–200). New York: Kluwer.
Walker, I., & Smith, H. J. (2000). Fifty years of relative deprivation research. In I. Walker & H. J. Smith (Eds.), Relative deprivation, specification, development and integration (pp. 1–12). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Editors and Affiliations
Rights and permissions
© 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
About this entry
Cite this entry
Schulze, M., Krätschmer-Hahn, R. (2014). Relative Deprivation Theory. In: Michalos, A.C. (eds) Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-0753-5_2457
Publisher Name: Springer, Dordrecht
Print ISBN: 978-94-007-0752-8
Online ISBN: 978-94-007-0753-5
eBook Packages: Humanities, Social Sciences and LawReference Module Humanities and Social Sciences