Social exclusion

Social Exclusion has no agreed to, defined, or specific single application, though one suggested definition is as follows:

Social exclusion is a multidimensional process of progressive social rupture, detaching groups and individuals from social relations and institutions and preventing them from full participation in the normal, normatively prescribed activities of the society in which they live. [ [ Hilary Silver, “Social Exclusion: Comparative Analysis of Europe and Middle East Youth,” Middle East Youth Initiative Working Paper (September 2007), p. 15] ]

However, one problem with the term is the tendency of its use by practitioners to define it to fit their argument (see Understanding Social Exclusion, ed. Hills, Le Grand & Piachaud 2002, Oxford University Press). It is a term used widely in the United Kingdom and Europe, and was first utilized in France. It is used across disciplines including education, sociology, psychology, politics and economics.


Most of the characteristics listed in the following paragraphs are present together in studies of Social Exclusion, due to exclusion's multidimensionality. One of the best descriptions of Social Exclusion and Social Inclusion are that they are on a continuum on a vertical plane below and above the Social Horizon; they have a ten-phase modulating ("phase" because they increase and decrease [modulate] with time) social structure: race, geographic location, class structure, globalization, social issues, personal habits and appearance, education, religion, economics, and politics. The following descriptions are very limiting and do not cover the whole gamut of Social Exclusion and Social Inclusion.

Social exclusion relates to the alienation or disenfranchisement of certain people within a society. It is often connected to a person's social class, educational status, relationships in childhood [ [ The Salvation Army: The Seeds of Exclusion (2008) ] ] and living standards and how these might affect access to various opportunities. It also applies to some degree to people with a disability, to minority men and women of all races, to the elderly, and to youth (Youth Exclusion). Anyone who deviates in any perceived way from the norm of a population may become subject to coarse or subtle forms of social exclusion. Additionally, communities may self-exclude by removing themselves physically from the larger community, for example, in the gated community model.

"“Social exclusion is about the inability of our society to keep all groups and individuals within reach of what we expect as a society... [or] to realise their full potential." [ Social exclusion in the UK]

"Whatever the content and criteria of social membership, socially excluded groups and individuals lack capacity or access to social opportunity. [ Hilary Silver, “Social Exclusion: Comparative Analysis of Europe and Middle East Youth,” Middle East Youth Initiative Working Paper (September 2007)] .

To be "excluded from society" can take various relative senses, but social exclusion is usually defined as more than a simple economic phenomenon: it also has consequences on the social, symbolic field.

"Women of Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Caribbean descent [in Britain] are doing well in schools but are still being penalised in the workplace...80-89% of 16-year-olds from those ethnic groups wanted to work full-time...but they were up to four times more likely to be jobless." [ [ BBC NEWS | UK | Career worries for minority women ] ]

Philosopher Axel Honneth thus speaks of a "struggle for recognition", which he attempts to theorize through Hegel's philosophy. In this sense, to be socially excluded is to be deprived from social recognition and social value. In the sphere of politics, social recognition is obtained by full citizenship; in the economic sphere (in capitalism) it means being paid enough to be able to participate fully in the life of the community.

This concept can be gleaned from considering examples of the "social integration crisis: poverty, professional exclusion or marginalization, social and civic disenfranchisement, absence or weakening of support networks, frequent inter-cultural conflicts," [ Situation of single parent households headed by women] These relate not only to gender, race and disability, but also to crime:

"Social exclusion is a major cause of crime and re-offending. Removing the right to vote increases social exclusion by signalling to serving prisoners that, at least for the duration of their sentence, they are dead to society.The additional punishment of disenfranchisement is not a deterrent. There is no evidence to suggest that criminals are deterred from offending behaviour by the threat of losing the right to vote.....(and) the notion of civic death for sentenced prisoners isolates still further those who are already on the margins of society and encourages them to be seen as alien to the communities to which they will return on release" [ Barred from Voting: the Right to Vote for Sentenced Prisoners]

The problem of social exclusion is usually tied to the problem of equal opportunity, as some people are more subject to such exclusion than others. Marginalization of certain groups is a problem even in many economically more developed countries, including the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US), where the majority of the population enjoys considerable economic and social opportunities..

Since social exclusion may lead to one being deprived of one's citizenship, some authors (Philippe Van Parijs, Jean-Marc Ferry, Alain Caillé, André Gorz, Axel Wolz) have proposed a basic income, which would impede exclusion from citizenship. The concept of a Universal Unconditional Income, or social salary, has been disseminated notably by the Green movement in Germany.

In the last few years there has been research focused on possible connections between exclusion and brain function. Studies published by the University of Georgia and San Diego State University found that exclusion can lead to diminished brain functioning and poor decision making. Such studies corroborate with earlier beliefs of sociologists. The effect of exclusion may likely correlate with such things as substance abuse and crime.

Social inclusion

Social inclusion, its converse, is affirmative action to change the circumstances and habits that lead to (or have led to) social exclusion.

Social Inclusion is a strategy to combat social exclusion, but it is not making reparations or amends for past wrongs as in Affirmative Action. It is the coordinated response to the very complex system of problems that are known as social exclusion. The notion of social inclusion can vary according to the type of strategies organizations adopted.

Social exclusion is a concept that is used in many parts of the world outside of the United States to characterize contemporary forms of social disadvantage. Dr. Lynn Todman, director of the Institute on Social Exclusion at the Adler School of Professional Psychology, suggests that social exclusion refers to processes in which individuals and entire communities of people are systematically blocked from rights, opportunities, and resources (e.g., housing, employment, healthcare, civic engagement, democratic participation, and due process) that are normally available to members of American society and which are key to social integration.


1. Power, A., Wilson, W.J., 2000, Social Exclusion and the Future of Cities, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, London School of Economics, London


*Li Yi. "The Structure and Evolution of Chinese Social Stratification". University Press of America, 2005, ISBN 0-7618-3331-5
*Frank Moulaert, Erik Swyngedouw and Arantxa Rodriguez. "The Globalized City: Economic Restructing and Social Polarization in European Cities". Oxford University Press, 2003, ISBN 978-0199260409
*Axel Honneth, "The Struggle for Recognition: Moral Grammar of Social Conflicts", 1996. ISBN 978-0745618388
*Philippe Van Parijs, "Real Freedom for All: What (if anything) can justify capitalism?", 1995. ISBN 978-0198293576
*Gilles Deleuze, "A Thousand Plateaus", 1980.
*John Rawls, "A Theory of Justice", 1971. ISBN 978-0674017726
*Karl Marx, "Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844"University of Georgia (2006, November 9). Social Exclusion Changes Brain Function And Can Lead To Poor Decision-making. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 29, 2008, from­ /releases/2006/11/061108154256.htm
*Hilary Silver, "", 2007, Middle East Youth Initiative Working Paper, []

External links

* [ Adler Institute on Social Exclusion]
* [ "Is the U.S. a Good Model for Reducing Social Exclusion in Europe?"] Center for Economic and Policy Research, August 2006
* [ Career worries for minority women]
* [,,-6068130,00.html?gusrc=ticker-103704 Black teachers face daily racism The Guardian] - no longer working
* [ Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion]

See also

* Basic income
* Caste
* Guaranteed minimum income
* KATARSIS: An EU Research Project to address social exclusion issues
* Marginalization
* Ostracism
* Poverty
* Racism
* Second-class citizen
* Social alienation
* Social firm
* Social rejection
* URSPIC: An EU Research Project to measure impacts of urban development projects on social exclusion
* Waithood
* Youth Exclusion


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