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bubonic plague combined to produce a class of itinerant beggars who were feared (then as now) not only because they were homeless, but also because they were without work, and therefore without masters. Later thinkers explained the exclusion of certain classes or groups from equal shares in a society’s goods in different ways: for Karl Marx, the appropriation of the worker’s labour was a necessary, but socially divisive, condition for the accumulation of capital in societies industrialising under a capitalist mode of production; Max Weber focused also on the cultural and political conditions which, in addition to the economic conditions, could affect people’s conception of their worth as citizens. Thus while for Marx, a central concept explaining levels of economic and political inclusion and exclusion was that of class:

wage labourers, capitalists and landowners, form the three great classes of modern society, based on the capitalist mode of production…The existence of a class which possesses nothing but the ability to work is a necessary presupposition of capital. (Capital III, and Wage Labour and Capital in Bottomore and Rubel 1956: pp 186& 157);

for Weber, a central concept was that of social status, while later thinkers emphasised that various dimensions of citizenship could be used to measure degrees of social inclusion and exclusion:

Citizenship is a status bestowed on those who are full members of Citizenship is a status bestowed on those who are full members of a Community. All who possess the status are equal with respect to the rights and duties with which the status is endowed. There is no universal principle that determines what those rights and duties shall be, but societies…create an image of an ideal citizenship against which achievement can be measured and towards which aspiration can be directed. (Marshall 1947/1963: 92)

Then, towards the end of the twentieth century the writings of policy theorists such as Gough (1979) in England and Esping-Anderson(1990, variously in Sweden, Germany, Italy and now Spain) made it possible to conceptualise the different levels of inclusion and exclusion in relation to different welfare state forms. Nowadays, the concepts of social exclusion, integration and reintegration are firmly embedded in European social policy debates.

The Commission of the European Communities in its Background Report: Social Exclusion – Poverty and Other Social Problems in the European Community, ISEC/B/11/93 defined social exclusion as follows:

Social exclusion refers to the multiple and changing factors resulting in people being excluded from the normal exchanges, practices and rights of modern society. Poverty is one of the most obvious factors, but social exclusion also refers to inadequate rights in housing, education, health and access to services. It affects individuals and groups, particularly in urban and rural areas, who are in some way subject to discrimination or segregation; and it emphasises the weaknesses in the social infrastructure and the risk of allowing a two-tier society to become established by default. Although this appears to be a very comprehensive definition, it, none the less, ends by implying that social exclusion is always an unintended consequence of structural and/or cultural arrangements, rather than sometimes being a deliberate effect of law and/or politics as in the case of prisoners, asylum seekers, immigrants and refugees. In relation, therefore to the social exclusion, integration and/or reintegration of women ex-prisoners

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