The term ‘social exclusion’ was first originated in Europe, where there was a greater emphasis on spatial exclusion. There is also a policy focus on those living in ‘deprived areas’, where poor housing, inadequate social services, weak political voice and lack of decent work all combine to create an experience of marginalisation.
In general terms social exclusion is a concept that can be defined and deployed in two ways:
It can be defined narrowly – in which case it is used as a synonym for income poverty and refers specifically to either those people who are not attached to the paid labour market (exclusion from the paid workforce) or to those people in low-wage work. It is often used alongside the concept of “social cohesion” in the sense that a cohesive society is one in which (political, social and economic) stability is maintained and controlled by participation in the paid workforce.
It can be defined broadly – in which case it refers to much more than poverty, income
inequality, deprivation or lack of employment. It involved a lack of resources and/or denial of social rights and that exclusion was a dynamic process. The processes of exclusion resulted in multiple deprivations, the breaking of family ties and social relationships, and loss of identity and purpose (Silver 1995).
Social exclusion is an independent process in itself. It involves the denial of resources and services, and the denial of the right to participate on equal terms in social relationships in economic, social, cultural or political arenas. Exclusionary processes can occur at various levels, within and between households, villages, cities, states, and globally. It provides information for international development agencies to identify those dynamic processes which they could aim to strengthen or minimise.
Naila Kabeer identifies three types of attitudes and social practices which result in exclusion (2000: 91-93). These can be conscious or unconscious, intended or unintended, explicit or informal. They are:
Mobilisation of institutional bias: Existence of “a predominant set of values, beliefs, rituals and institutional procedures that operate systematically and consistently to the benefit of certain persons and groups at the expense of others”. This mechanism operates without conscious decisions by those who represent the status quo.
Social closure: This is the way in which social system seek to maximize rewards by restricting access to resources and opportunities to a limited group of favoured eligibles. This implies the monopolisation of certain opportunities based on group attributes, such as race, language, social origin and religion. State institutions cause exclusion when they deliberately discriminate in their laws, policies or programmes. Often there are social systems that decide people’s position in society on the basis of heredity.
Unruly practices: Refers to the gaps between rules and their implementation. Institutions unofficially encourage exclusion when decision makers reflect the prejudices of their society through their position and even institutionalising some kind of discrimination.
People who are socially excluded are generally also poor, particularly if poverty is defined in a multidimensional way. But several key differences are there between the concepts of poverty and social exclusion. The majority of people in a society may be poor, but it cannot be always said that they are excluded also. In most of the cases social exclusion implies inequality or relative deprivation, whereas poverty need not. Social exclusion implies that there are processes of exclusion and institutional processes and actors responsible for excluding, whereas poverty does not necessarily imply this.
There are various types of exclusion.
Political exclusion is defined as the denial of citizenship rights such as political participation and the right to organise, and also of personal security, the rule of law, freedom of expression and equality of opportunity. Bhalla and Lapeyre (1997) argue that political exclusion also involves the notion that the state, which should grant basic rights and civil liberties, is not a neutral agency but a vehicle of a society’s dominant classes, and so may discriminate between different social groups.
Economic exclusion includes lack of access to labour markets, credit and other forms of ‘capital assets’.
A Video about Social Groups by IMC MAANU
- Child poverty and social exclusion: A framework for European action (libraryeuroparl.wordpress.com)
- Truth and Lies about Poverty (jochamberlain.wordpress.com)
- A study in myopia (thehindu.com)
- Social Exclusion and Space (megheis.wordpress.com)
- UNICEF: 600,000 Children Below Poverty Line in Greece (greece.greekreporter.com)
- Shame on us: why stigmatising welfare claimants won’t work (povertyalliance.wordpress.com)