The following essay will examine, to what extent social exclusion is a multidimensional phenomenon which requires multifaceted responses, giving examples.
“Social exclusion is a broader concept than poverty, encompassing not only low material means but the inability to participate effectively in economic, social, political and cultural life and in some characterizations alienation and distance from mainstream society (Duffy, 1995)”
In the last decades, the concept of social exclusion has drastically increased in pupils’ awareness. “Social divisions between racial and ethnic groups-along economic, cultural, and political lines-are a central feature of public life throughout the world. The problem spans geographic and political boundaries and reflects universal social dynamics (Loury, 2000).”
The bases of social exclusion have been blamed to flaws in government policies, the constant changes in the eminent economy as well as national and international services offered to the population. Mostly it is the people who are socially excluded who are most vulnerable of asserting themselves or being maltreated by the society. There has even been a recent study in the United Kingdom (UK) which came up with the shocking result, that the majority of crimes are committed by people who are not being welcomed and accepted by their society, i.e. being socially excluded (UKSEU, 2001).
Yet, social exclusion can strike anyone. Having an on-going and constantly improving technology as well as economic welfare, people are persistently undergoing change. These adjustments promote people but in tandem leave others behind. Humans who belong to the less privileged faction or minority social groups are though often found to be more assailable of facing social segregation.
The reason for their increased susceptibility is that many of the effects of social exclusion are linked. For example, it has been found, that the health and family status of an individual tends to impact on educational achievement, this relates to income and employment potential, which in turn relates to the extent of an individual’s awareness and ability to access services and facilities. Social exclusion is more than just income poverty; it is a lack of access to the various networks of support and information that help people into education, homes, jobs, services and necessities (Anderson, 2003).
As having shortly mentioned in the paragraph above, one of the main factors, nowadays, which causes social exclusion, is poverty and the lack of financial assets. A previous report from the CCSD (The Progress of Canada’s Children 2002), concluded that kids living in deprived families are less likely to experience a superior education in their colleges and they mostly do not seem to participate in playful after-school activities – either with peers or adults. Another conclusion obtained from the account was the fact that apparently children who live in poor circumstances are likely to belong to a debilitated family. Hence, such children have twice the probability of becoming victims of violence or having oppressed parents – both which are risk factors for social exclusion.
One way, in which social exclusion, due to poverty, has been dealt with, was the rise of wages for ethnic minorities. This happened in Vienna, Austria in the year 2002. The people concerned were mainly of Bosnian, Turkish or Serbian decent and employed in low-paid jobs in the secondary and tertiary sector. Such governmental actions have given immigrants in Vienna the chance to improve their lifestyle and therefore “rise” in the social-class level. The wage rise meant that families could now afford better education for their children, increasing the chance of them becoming socially included.
Secondly, transport can also represent a significant barrier to social inclusion. An estimated two-thirds of the poorest 20% of the population – worldwide – do not have the possibility of utilizing cars. Therefore, most of the affected people opt for public transport, but these are not accessible and in addition, the prices often outrage the financial possibilities of the people, meaning that they cannot operate them, even if they have them in the vicinity. Other methods of conveyance, such as cycling or going by foot do often not come in handy, since people mainly need distant journeys (Furlong, 2002).
“Transport problems of this kind make a particularly significant contribution to social exclusion where they make it difficult for people to get work or to access critical services on which many depend, including healthcare, learning and shops (Furlong, 2002).” This would therefore imply, that people affected by scarce infrastructure, could not socialize with other people since they could not reach them in a convenient way – leading to being socially excluded from the people around them.
A major country which has improved its infrastructure in order to offer greater inclusion possibilities for its citizens is India. Having estimated, that about 500 million people will be committing rural-urban migration, within the next 10 to 15 years (Chang, 2010), India’s government has vowed to steadily improve its infrastructure – especially road transport between settlements. The golden quadrilateral project though behind schedule has connected some of the key cities in India. It is estimated that average speeds have increased by almost 50% (A Man From India, 2007). These drastic improvements have given most people in rural areas or commuter towns the possibility of accessing new work places more efficiently, leading to more job opportunities and lastly the chance of becoming socially more included.
Lastly, Ethnic disparities in the correctional system seem to be the result of both discrimination and biases in the system, as well as disproportionate offending within certain populations. However, research shows that those minority groups which are disproportionately involved in offending are those which are economically and socially disadvantaged, in many cases as a result of historical discrimination (Meares, 1996).
The UK study found that social exclusion and deprivation consistently emerge as underlying factors in the over-representation of certain visible minority groups in the criminal justice system (Meares, 1996). In Western countries, members of disadvantaged minority groups are more likely to be arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for violent crimes, property crimes, and drug-related crimes.
In my opinion, “the solution to social exclusion lies not in myriad attempts to repair society at points of breakdown, but in persuading relatively affluent groups that social inclusion is worth paying for (Watt, 1999).” However, it is easier said than done. Since there are too many factors which affect social exclusion and everyone can be affected by it without precaution, it is difficult to limit its happening. Yet, the Government has made tackling these interfolded problems a priority because of the huge costs to individuals and society, as well as the impact it has on public spending and the competitiveness of the economy.
In the future, I therefore do expect a reasonable amount of people, who currently are not, becoming socially included. However, there will be no end to social exclusion, since as explored in this essay, it is an ongoing process which can be caused by too many factors and is therefore very difficult to completely abolish.