Social Divisions: Social Exclusion and Social Inclusion

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This essay will discuss social divisions; social exclusion and social inclusion, of which there are many definitions and interpretations. Social divisions and Social exclusion has been around for many years. Social exclusion was first noticed in France in 1970s in relation to people who fell outside the range of the social insurance system, such as disabled people, lone parents and the young unemployed (Townsend and Kennedy, 2004). Before 1997 Social exclusion was referred to as ‘poverty’, which means where people lack many of the opportunities that are available to the average person (Palmer; 2010). However for the purpose of this assignment, it will focus on homelessness as a social division, the relationship between exclusion and inclusion, and how this relates to social work practice. 

Everybody in society is part of a social division. Thompson (2010) states that social divisions are complex and people are not only part of one group they are often part of other groups, for a example a asylum seekers can be linked with social divisions such as poverty, unemployment and homelessness. Asylum seekers can also be marginalised by language barriers. Supporting Thompson (2010) is Armstrong (2006) who stated in 1997, 4.8 million adults suffered from five or more disadvantages of exclusion. Social divisions are: class, race, disability, identify, gender and geographical environment, they are often problematic to individuals, groups and communities. Each Government which has come into power has tried to eradicate poverty, poor health, poor communities, discrimination and prejudice towards certain individuals and groups (Alcock, 2008). 

Social exclusion, which excludes people from society, can be categorised into people who are, ex offenders, homeless, elderly, youths, children, single parents, people with a disability, and/ or mental health issues, asylum seekers, communities and neighbourhoods. One interpretation of social exclusion comes from the European Commission’s recent Joint Report ,which states  ‘social exclusion is a process where individuals are made to feel pushed out and prevented from participating in society, due to poverty or lack of education. This may result in discrimination, resulting in exclusion from jobs, an income, limited education, lack of social and community opportunities and possibly feeling powerless’ (Europa, 2003). 

A structural view from Field (1989) and Dahrendorf (1987) who believe it is the structures in society that exclude people. Another, interpretation from the Social Exclusion Unit London (SEU) states social exclusion is 'a shorthand label for what can happen when individuals or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime environments, bad health and family breakdown' (SEU 1997). Pierson (2010) suggests that poverty, low income, lack of access to the job market, low or non existent social support, the effect of the area and the exclusion from services are all ways to socially exclude people from society. Thompson (2010) believes that social location affects people’s life chances, due to where people are born and where they live, arguing that people have no choice/control over what position they are within society and depending on their location within the structure there are advantages and disadvantages. Payne (2006) believes that individual’s behaviour is structured through dominant cultural beliefs and stereotypes and social divisions can be operate through powerful institutions. 

Social inclusion is seen as the opposite of social exclusion, where the person feels as though they have a sense of inclusion in society, by being able to participate rather then be excluded. Participation in society allows the individual to be able to access finance, welfare benefits, employment, health services, secure housing, resources and social networks. Therefore, participation is about achieving citizenship,...
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