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The three main inter-related and overlapping sources/dimensions of social exclusion are:

  • Economic: global changes in markets have led to: large-scale male exclusion from the workforce; the feminization of poverty through the increase in the numbers of female headed, single-parent households and the increased casualisation of female labour; cutbacks in welfare; and, in the UK at least, greater inequalities of income. Especially affected groups are: the unemployed; women heading single parent families; families in poverty; itinerant workers and families; the homeless and the physically and mentally ill; ex-prisoners. The exclusion takes the form of: poverty; unemployment; homelessness or insecure housing; low income and/or low pay; increasing debt at exploitative rates; consumption inadequate to basic needs; and effective exclusion from certain areas: for example, better residential areas with superior schools and medical care and adequate leisure facilities.

  • Cultural: the excluded groups mentioned above sometimes suffer further from the operation of exclusionary laws, bureaucracies, or social mores (that is, discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, class and status – for example, age, or situation, such as being a victim of domestic violence or sexual abuse). Especially affected groups are: women, especially single mothers, lesbian women, female workers unprotected by labour laws and victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse; minority groups, especially ethnic groups or people with a non-heterosexual orientation); young people in state institutions or accused of ‘status’ crimes (that is, offences punishable at law which would carry no criminal sanction if committed by an adult – for example, truancy).

  • Political: Certain groups (who usually suffer a concomitant economic and cultural exclusion) are excluded from full rights of citizenship either: because of their social status, for example: young people whose age makes them ineligible to vote or have consensual sexual relations with their own or the opposite sex; prisoners who become ineligible for certain welfare benefits and to vote while in prison; and people working in legally marginal occupations – for example, women engaged in prostitution; or: because they are in stereotyped categories of people seen to pose a risk to a populace itself already exhibiting many of the above indicators of social exclusion. The groups thus seen as other and therefore creating a perceived risk include: immigrant workers, refugees, asylum seekers, illegal immigrants; people legally living unconventional lives of all kinds; and ex-prisoners.

Sources/Dimensions and Indicators of Social Exclusion; and Socially Excluded Groups of Women

Figure 1 below summarises the main types of social exclusion, together with their substantive social indicators and corresponding categories of excluded citizens, or citizens who, though not excluded at present, are vulnerable to exclusion because their social circumstances already exhibit some of the indicators of social exclusion.


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