Relative deprivation theory and social justice theory are applied in a study of grievance formation in South Africa. We hypothesized that grievance formation is affected by objective conditions (race and class) and subjective conditions (comparisons with others and across time, trust in government, and perceived influence on government). Between 1994 and 1998 we annually interviewed separate samples of South Africans. Our findings suggest that people's sense of grievance has become less related to race than to class. Furthermore, we found an interplay of the two kinds of comparisons in the formation of grievances. Depending on the comparison made and on the outcome of that comparison, it appears that people find it either easy or difficult to cope with a low living standard. These assessments are further qualified by trust in and influence on government. Trust and influence make people optimistic about the future and therefore more inclined to believe that their situation will improve.