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Social Exclusion

Social Exclusion

Social exclusion is a concept used in many parts of the world to characterize contemporary forms of social disadvantage.


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Mee Young Jeong

Mee Young Jeong

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The concept of "social exclusion" captures the form and content of the interaction between economic restructuring and a society's social institutions; thus, they can be identified in both the worlds of work and family life. A poverty-oriented "Basic Needs" approach dominated the study of international development in the 1970s, originating in the 1973 discovery of the World Bank that upwards of two fifths of the world's population was in a state of relative deprivation, unable to meet its basic needs.

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The discourse of `equal treatment' of citizens enshrined in the 1957 Treaty of Rome (which launched the Economic European Community) and the rhetoric of 'competitiveness' of the economy of the Single Market now includes a pathologizing of particular social groups in terms of social exclusion: the young, the old, women, ethnic minorities, the disabled, and now, those at risk of redundancy. They are posed as outside opportunity structures available for the 'included' and at the same time as a threat to unity and order within the EU (Brine, 1995).

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'Social exclusion is what can happen when people or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime, poor health and family breakdown.' (SEU, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister:2)
While there has been considerable research on social exclusion of adults, especially in Britain and the European Union (EU), there has been less research undertaken on the position of children (see for example, EU 2005, Noble et. al 2004, Noble et. al. 2001, and Daly 2006 for a survey of this literature).

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Launching Preventing Social Exclusion, the Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "Social exclusion affects every single one of us. There are the huge personal costs to those people who are sleeping rough, missing out on education or struggling through poverty or deprivation. But we all suffer when so many of our fellow citizens are missing out. Our society is less cohesive and everyone pays the bills for social failure. "

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Research overseas has indicated that the level of social exclusion an individual experiences is related to the area one lives in (see for instance Bradshaw et al 2004). The British Social Exclusion Unit and the Eurostat Taskforce on Social Exclusion and Poverty Statistics both include in their definitions of social exclusion spatial or neighbourhood effects. Bradshaw et al. (2004, p.86) defines a neighbourhood effect as 'the net change in the contribution to life chances made by living in one area rather than another'.

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Kronauer (1998) described a comprehensive theoretical definition of social exclusion based upon the use of the term in France (Castel, 1994, Paugam, 1996, Silver, 1998) and the concept of underclass in the USA. Kronauer asserts that the ever-increasing unemployment rates have become a permanent social reality in the EU with the consequence that more and more persons with lesser skills cannot lead a life that meets societal standards for material and social well-being (Starrin, Rantakeisu, Forsberg, & Kalander-Blomqvist, 2000).

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Housing is one of the principal areas identified by government for the targetting of action on social exclusion in both Scotland and the UK. The problems of the `worst estates' have been a particular focus of the Social Exclusion Unit, in whose activities the Scottish Office has been closely involved (Armstrong, 1998; Scottish Office, 1999a; Social Exclusion Unit, 1998).

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If positive social connectedness is linked to healthy behaviors in adolescents, then social exclusion and marginalization may be predictive of poor outcomes. Social exclusion is defined as limited or no participation in social, economic and political life. Adolescent females report having significantly fewer friends than males and experiencing greater control of their movement and social interactions by others.

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But first it needs a common definition of "social exclusion," a vague concept not confined to poverty, that covers anything from old people left on their own to young people deprived of Internet connections and kept out of the information society.
Second, it needs some reliable scientific basis. "We don't have the relevant data we need in order to develop policies," Ms. Diamantopoulou said. "In some member states there is nothing."

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Indeed, much of the effort to encourage children to be friends with everyone is meant to head off bullying and other extreme consequences of social exclusion.
For many child-rearing experts, the ideal situation might well be that of Matthew and Margaret Guest, 12-year-old twins in suburban Atlanta, who almost always socialize in a pack.

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