sociology

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The Issues Of Social Exclusion Sociology Essay

"Social exclusion is a complex problem that requires a multi-faceted solution" Exclusion is a word that is used in everyday life and within the educational world of geography. An example of exclusion is - a situation in which someone is deliberately prevented from being involved in an activity or from entering a place' (www.macmillandictionary.com). 'Exclusion' is strongly associated to stigma, this is because stigma refers to the way in which certain groups or individuals may become detached and differentiate from mainstream society and follow the deviant sub-culture. However we can question how you define 'deviant', it is a highly contested term as what we consider unacceptable or inappropriate behavior may be perfectly normal and tolerable in other parts of the world. Stigma is a social process which over time leads to disapproval of a group or individual, who are recognized as having negative qualities which go against cultural norms.

According to Giddens (1998: 104): 'Exclusion is not about graduations of inequality, but about the mechanisms that detach people from the social mainstream.'

Burchardt et al. (1999) also accentuates the relational and normative features of the concept: ‘An individual is socially excluded if a) he or she is geographically resident in a society and b) he or she does not participate in the normal activities of citizens in that society.’ Nevertheless, this explanation does not make apparent the geographical scale of 'society'. We can question whether it refers to a city-region, a nation state or smaller area?

'Social exclusion' puts forward and brings to attention a concern with material inequality such as education, housing, healthcare and employment. One sociological definition of social exclusion is as follows: Social exclusion is a multidimensional process of progressive social rupture, detaching groups and individuals from social relations and institutions and preventing them from full participation in the normal, normatively prescribed activities of the society in which they live. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_exclusion)

Whilst addressing the numerous different problems and causes of exclusion, we understand that social exclusion is a multi-dimensional complexity to overcome. However, unemployment still stands out as a major factor. It may be the root cause to explain social exclusion. This can be said as paid work is the primary source of income for families and without work, they may feel worthless and have no goals to achieve or work towards. (Foley 1999) ‘Social exclusion is not only about shortage of money, it is about rights and relationships; and about how people are treated and how they regard themselves; about powerlessness, exclusion and loss of dignity. Yet the lack of adequate income is at its heart’.

Social networks are also limited as many people's lives revolve around work and being secluded and cut-off from work can heavily impact on a person’s pride, identity and self-worth, thus making the person depressed and wanting to stray from society. This can cause extreme tension and anxiety physically, socially and mentally, as it is a vicious circle of low mood and self-esteem which can day by day result in the person becoming isolated from mainstream society.

Monetary income generally comes from working; as a result people who are not employed become vulnerable to poverty and homelessness. Without an income, material possessions decrease therefore a person’s standard of living is also affected and they may consequently suffer material and cultural deprivation.

To tackle the issue of unemployment as one of the principal factors of social exclusion, policies and laws need to be looked at in the labour market. By making the unemployed group of people more attractive to employers – e.g. more “employable” Another solution may be to encourage employers to be more inclusive in their employment policies and selection processes.

Gender can also have a negative influence on social exclusion as when looking at city planning through a sociological view; the outcome is that being a female can restrict you from obtaining positions of power in the hierarchy of work and society. This is also known as the glass ceiling. This term describes discrimination that women and minorities often experience when trying to advance into an organization's senior management levels. The glass ceiling approach can also be elaborated and come to describe the limited advancement of the deaf, blind and disabled. David R. Hekman et al. (2009) findings showed that customers favor white male employees more than equally-well performing women and minority groups, meaning males earn an average 25 percent more overall.

A customer’s preference for white males can clarify why white men hold the most prestigious, most powerful, and highly paid jobs in the occupational structure. This is referred to as occupational segregation which can increase social exclusion, as it is an example where male domination occurs and sexism can be seen. Men tend to be highly concentrated in the top professions, and dominate jobs such as supervisors, managers, executives, and production operators. Conversely, women tend to be over-represented in the lowest paid occupations, such as secretaries, sales associates, teachers, nurses, and child care providers. As a result a negative stereotypical stigma is attached, and occupations become “sex typed” as either being specifically male or female jobs.

This segregation of women into less-prestigious and lower-ranked jobs decreases a woman’s chance of being promoted and excludes them from having any type of managerial power over others. Moreover, occupational segregation reduces women’s access to benefits, insurance, and pensions.

The role of transport in contributing to social exclusion is the availability of (or access to) transport and transport services can act as a facilitator or barrier to participation. The inability to access certain services, opportunities, goods or networks because of inadequate transport of restricted personal mobility is a main cause of social exclusion. Kenyon et al (2002) defines mobility-related exclusion as: 'The process by which people are prevented from participating in the economic, political and social life of the Community because of reduced accessibility to opportunities, services and social networks, due in whole or in part to insufficient mobility in a society and environment built around the assumption of high mobility.' The definition implies there is a co-relational link between transport and social exclusion, as it is a cause as well as a consequence. Thus, those with insufficient mobility are more limited in their ability to participate, leading to an inequality of opportunity.

Exclusion in one area can significantly impact another area and this can be further looked into and argued. An example of this can be seen when discrimination against ethnic groups and young people takes place which leaves them more vulnerable to economic exclusion, as they may suffer from degraded housing conditions where job opportunities are low and unattainable. Analysis of Department for Children, Schools and Families data quoted in a report on vulnerable groups for the National Foundation for Educational Research has shown: Young people living in poorer areas appear to have lower levels of attainment at key stage 5 and at other key stages than those living in more affluent areas. Further evidence to support this comes from the Youth Justice Board (YJB) Accommodation study states' Young people living in disorganized inner-city areas, which have a prevalence of physical deterioration, overcrowded households, high residential mobility, and social housing are at higher risk of becoming involved in offending as well as homelessness'.

Conclusion

To remove one form of exclusion, the primary cause of exclusion has to be tackled in order to solve the predicament, hence why a multi-faceted approach needs to be taken into consideration. A strategy to overcome social exclusion requires looking at social inclusion. Social inclusion entails affirmative action to change the circumstances that lead to (or have led to) social exclusion.

It can be argued that just providing decent housing would eliminate most of the problems of social exclusion however this solution will not work because a simple one dimensional approach is not enough to challenge all the complexities of social exclusion.

Three goals need to be achieved:

Preventing- reducing number of people who have suffered from bad experiences which may make them susceptible to becoming socially excluded and take action to compensate if they have.

Reintegrating - those who have strayed from society, by providing them with services and infrastructure to get back into work and education, and giving everyone the same opportunities to succeed.

Basic service standards to everyone - by delivering basic minimum standards- in health, housing, education, jobs, wages so that they are more inclusive.

Consequently, to combat social exclusion from top to bottom governments need to find a way of preventing social exclusion occurring in the foremost stage. As earlier stated various methods need to be put in place and affirmative action is required such as, empowering individuals, and communities to help themselves. Governments and councils need to get involved and bring about agendas to change rules and regulations, and new laws need to be laid down and changes in attitudes brought about. This should then be passed down to local communities who can then work their way up and slowly eliminate each problem at a time, thus reducing social exclusion.


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