Social exclusion is not reduced to economic and material elements (which are nonetheless essential). In addition, there are other obstacles that prevent a person from participating in the surrounding society.
It is a dynamic process , constantly changing, with various barriers and difficulties that accumulate and prevent a person, families, groups or regions from being part of a society. These individuals or groups have unequal relationships with the rest of the community of a region.
Social exclusion is structural because it is a reality inherent to all societies. Unfortunately, it is one more element of the economic and social system in which we live.
It has the characteristic of being multidimensional because it contemplates various elements of human development. This makes it possible to clearly differentiate the concept of poverty from that of social exclusion.
The European Commission points out that a citizen is at risk of social exclusion and poverty when they are in two of the three situations that we will explain below, people who have incomes below 60% of the average , who suffer from severe material deprivation or who live in families where the employment rate is low.
Social exclusion falls into three main types :
- Economic exclusion : refers to low income, unstable employment or absence of it, and the impossibility of having resources.
- Social exclusion : refers to the lack of a support network, behavioral difficulties and self-exclusion.
- Political exclusion : it refers to the lack of rights and the lack of representation in the community in which one lives.
Poverty deals with the deprivation of economic and material resources suffered by a person or a country; while social exclusion covers more aspects, such as the absence of material resources, the absence of participation in the economic, social, political and cultural sector
Causes of social exclusion
It can occur due to multiple factors, such as:
- Religious factors . Segregation for religious reasons is probably one of the oldest that exists. It occurs when a practicing minority of a religion different from the majority is condemned, persecuted or expelled, especially in fundamentalist nations or those with an official religion. Since almost all religions claim to have the “true” faith, the rest are relegated to being noxious, deviant or perverted cults, and their practitioners, for that very reason, become personas non grata.
- Ethnic factors . Another very old form of segregation is the one that distinguishes between individuals according to their ethnic group, nationality or origin, and discriminates against minorities. In some cases, they may even be oppressed majorities (as in the case of apartheid South Africa). Racism and xenophobia are the main ethnic factors that exist .
- class factors . The distinction between social classes is typical of industrial capitalist society. In this way, the lower strata are discriminated against, forcing them to consume low-quality products and services, or directly to do without some of them, which not only deteriorates their quality of life, but also condemns them to reproduce the poverty they already suffered. stagnate in their social class.
- sexual factors . In different degrees of severity, the differentiation based on sex, gender identity and sexual orientation has also served to segregate different groups. The persecution of homosexuality, for example, or the sexism against which feminist groups have fought for centuries, are examples of this. Even today many religions condemn homosexuality and sentence women to a subservient place, as is the case in Islamic fundamentalist governments.
Social inclusion is the opposite and reverse process of exclusion, which seeks to reintegrate segregated individuals into society, through initiatives of economic, educational and cultural impulse of a diverse nature.
Numerous international organizations, with the help of local governments, are dedicated to combating social exclusion around the world and promoting a different social landscape, one that is more inclusive of minorities, the lower classes and women. It is not an easy task, since it often involves confronting deep-rooted traditions that are usually defended by conservative sectors of society.
Differece between poverty and social exclustion
One of the most outstanding characteristics of social exclusion is its multidimensionality , which makes it possible to differentiate between poverty and social exclusion.
Poverty deals with the deprivation of economic and material resources suffered by a person or a country; while social exclusion covers more aspects, such as the absence of material resources, the absence of participation in the economic, social, political and cultural sector.
The concept of social exclusion has changed and it is no longer just an economic situation, but a series of structural processes that come from various fields. The conventional vision has been overcome and poverty is no longer compared with social exclusion, since it affects people in different ways, depending on their potential and social context.
Relationship between poverty and social exclusion
We can say that social exclusion is synonymous with inequality and poverty . Exclusion is a process, and inequality and poverty are results. These terms may or may not be completely related.
That is, a person can be excluded from a society without being poor, due to non-material characteristics of the person such as their sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, political opinion, among others.