Applying Relative Deprivation Theory to the Civil Rights Movement

An analysis of specific events of the Civil Rights Movement as they relate to relative deprivation theory.

This paper applies the model of relative deprivation to the Civil Rights movement and includes excerpts from and analysis of the primary work “An Easy Burden” by Andrew Young. This model contends that the reason people desire change has less to do with an actual dissatisfaction with their situation, and more to do with how well their circumstances rate against the circumstances of others in society.
“An Easy Burden’s author Andrew Young, who experienced the dynamics of the movement first hand, declares: Racism, war, and poverty were heavy burdens, to challenge injustice was an easy burden (Young, 1992). This was true in the 1960s, but there was a vast chunk of American history in which racial discrimination was simply accepted. By connecting relative deprivation theory to Young’s statement, we can see that it was not until the black community was able to face the reality of its injustices by comparing itself with the image of America being portrayed in the ever-expanding media, that its members were truly inspired to incite change.”