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Regional Human Development Report on social inclusion

Regional Human Development Report on social inclusion

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2011 - Through the findings from surveys in six countries, this report looks at the vicious cycle of poverty from the perspective of those who experience it firsthand, and provides an overview of social exclusion in the region and recommended actions. The report also introduces a way to measure the extent to which people are excluded from economic life, social services, and social networks and civic participation.
2011 - Through the findings from surveys in six countries, this report looks at the vicious cycle of poverty from the perspective of those who experience it firsthand, and provides an overview of social exclusion in the region and recommended actions. The report also introduces a way to measure the extent to which people are excluded from economic life, social services, and social networks and civic participation.

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Published by: UNDP in Europe and Central Asia on Jul 11, 2013
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Social exclusion is seen in this report both
as a process and an outcome. It is a pro-
cess that pushes certain individuals to
the margins of society and prevents their
full participation in relevant social, eco-
nomic, cultural, and political processes.
As an outcome, it denotes the status and
characteristics of the excluded individual.
Social exclusion status has many dimen-
sions – poverty, lack of basic competencies,
limited employment and educational op-
portunities, as well as inadequate access to
social and community networks and activi-
ties. Diferentiating between exclusion as
a ‘process’ and as a ‘status’ is important for
understanding the dynamic relationships
among the diferent dimensions of social
exclusion. A focus-group participant cap-
tured this idea succinctly: “When you work,
you have friends. As soon as you lose your job,
you have no friends at all”. 6

The concept of social exclusion has evolved
with the concept of social rights, rooted in
the idea of the European welfare state. In
1974, René Lenoir, the Secretary of State
for Social Issues in the Gaullist Government
led by Jacques Chirac in France, in his study
‘Les Exclus’ defned ‘the excluded’ as peo-
ple from all social categories who are not
included in the social insurance systems of
the welfare state.7

The concept has been further adapted
and rearticulated over time. Within the dis-

course of citizenship, social rights and so-
cial justice, the status of ‘being socially ex-
cluded’ is not merely understood as a lack
of access to goods, but as a lack of access
to rights. If poverty is defned in relation to
income or material deprivation, social ex-
clusion is defned in relation to social rights
such as the right to work, housing, health
services, and education.8

For Sen,9

social exclusion occurs when one
does not have the freedom to undertake
activities that a person would have reason
to choose. The process of social exclusion
is intrinsically linked to the denial of free-
dom. People may be excluded from taking
advantage of an opportunity because of a
deliberate policy or practice in society (‘ac-
tive exclusion’), or as a result of a complex
web of social processes in which there are
no deliberate attempts to exclude (passive
exclusion).

There are many examples of both kinds of
social exclusion. For instance, unemploy-
ment experienced by a particular group
of people, such as migrants in their host
country, on account of specifc legal restric-
tions, constitutes ‘active exclusion’. Passive
exclusion occurs when unemployment re-
sults from a complex web of institutional
and systemic factors with no employment-
specifc decisions involved.

The process of social exclusion, whether
active or passive, may result in reduced hu-
man capabilities. Reduced capabilities in
one feld might be responsible for depriva-
tions in other felds of life, further fuelling
the process of social exclusion. Sen refers
to this as ‘capability failures’ and believes
that social exclusion plays an instrumental
role. Social exclusion is multi-dimensional,
including economic, social and civic di-
mensions. Deprivations in one dimension
can reinforce deprivations in another, and
these multiple deprivations can result in
social exclusion.

Social exclusion is not only characterized
by material deprivation, but by feelings of
inferiority, alienation, loss, and shame. Be-
ing socially excluded is both about status
and self-perception. Social exclusion re-
fects the status of an individual vis-à-vis
mainstream society. This makes it much
more relative than income poverty. How-
ever, similar to poverty monitoring, the
relative nature of social exclusion does not
preclude its measurement both in relative
and absolute terms.

6/

UNDP Montenegro 2009.

7/

Lenoir 1974.

8/

Lister 2004.

9/

Sen 2000.

9

In essence, social exclusion can be defned
as the inability to participate in aspects of
social life that people value and have a
right to, be they participation in political
processes, labour markets, education and
health systems, or cultural life. Exclusion
is generated by the action (or inaction),
of a person, a group or an institution. As
an outcome, the opposite of social exclu-
sion implies social equality. The opposite
of social exclusion as a process is not just
‘inclusion’, but expansion of opportunities
for participation in economic, social and
civic processes that are considered ‘normal’
in mainstream society. This makes the con-
cept closely linked to the human develop-
ment approach, and highlights the restrict-
ed freedoms and contributing factors that
might lead to social exclusion: discrimina-
tory practices, unequal power relations and
institutional barriers that prevent access to
public services and political participation.

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