1. What Is ‘Social Exclusion’ and How Does It Affect Young People During Their Transitions Towards to Adulthood?

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Abstract

The focus of this research is concerned with the effects of social exclusion on the transition from youth to adulthood. This has been area of growing concern throughout Britain today particularly in light of recent political changes. This study is necessary in order to identify key themes in relation to social exclusion and the role of professionals and the government in terms of minimising the impact of social exclusion. This qualitative inquiry sets out to expose a range of philosophical, political and professional ideologies in line with two key questions which are highlighted from the very outset. The findings from this research provide evidence that the role of the professional can be both a mechanism through which youth professionals aim to ‘undo’ social exclusion (due to pre-determined social factors such as poverty) and also an agent who works against the system or ‘the odds’ in order to make sure that young people are included in mainstream society as much as possible. The main conclusion that is drawn from this study is concerned with an imperative need for youth professionals and the government to gain a more ‘holistic’ understanding of young people which extends beyond an emphasis on government policies as a response to the circumstances facing socially excluded young people in Britain and elsewhere; one which interrogates exclusion processes and institutional practices rather than merely addressing the symptoms of disadvantage.

Introduction

A considerable amount of research has been carried out over recent decades in relation to the nature of social exclusion and young people both on national and international scale. Questions such as: How competent are young people in making responsible decisions? When does youth end and adulthood begin? Are youth undervalued as a subgroup in society? are both topical and of historic interest to sociologists, youth professionals and government organisations in the UK. Throughout the first chapter, the Literature Review, I will begin by exploring the emergence of youth as a transitional stage in its own right. Then, I will present a multitude of debates concerned with experiences of youth, specific political ideologies and the role of professionals, the government and youth services in relation to the social exclusion of young people. My primary aim is to explore the impact of social exclusion on the transition between youth and adulthood whilst maintaining a tight focus on two key research questions: 1. What is ‘social exclusion’ and how does it affect young people during their transitions towards to adulthood?

2. What are the roles of professionals and the government in minimising the impact of social exclusion?

Consideration will be given to several pieces of research that have been carried out in recent years and many of the superseding discussions will seek to determine whether or not young people are in fact socially excluded from mainstream society and valued as equal citizens. I will also provide an examination of young people’s ‘voices’ and will be exploring the degree to which their voices are heard; with a particular emphasis on youth participation. Furthermore, I will be examining patterns of political change and the subsequent effects this may have on youth transitions with references made to social policy and public services in Britain. A main priority throughout the Literature Review will be to analyse various constructions of young people. The chapter will seek to highlight key themes in relation to the research focus; this will be followed by the Methodology where I will provide a discussion in connection with methodological approaches and controversies relating to them as well as the inherent relationship between theory, politics and research. Within this chapter I will also present the methods that took place as part of this study and this will be followed by the Findings and Analysis chapter. Within this chapter I...
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