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A process by which individuals or households experience deprivation, either of resources (such as income), or of social links to the wider community or society. During the 1980s, the language of social exclusion came increasingly to be used alongside (and sometimes to replace) that of poverty, especially in discussions of social policy in Europe. It is not immediately obvious what is gained by this shift in terminology, since the former concept is no less controversial than the latter, and is commonly used to refer to the same cluster of social problems associated with (for example) unemployment, low income, poor housing, deficient health, or social isolation.

At least three broad and overlapping usages have emerged in this context. The first of these defines social exclusion in relation to social rights and to the barriers or processes by which people are prevented from exercising these. This understanding of the term leads researchers readily into discussions of civil society and to modern notions of citizenship. A second strand in the literature reveals a broadly Durkheimian frame of reference. Here, authors conceptualize social exclusion as a state of social or normative isolation from the wider society, and refer this to related notions such as those of anomie and so to problems of social integration. Finally, the term has been applied to situations of extreme marginalization, especially in the setting of multi-cultural societies. See also closure.

http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/social_exclusion_task_force/ The Social Exclusion Task Force, formerly the Social Exclusion Unit: the UK government agency responding to deprivation.

Subjects: Sociology.

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