The history of poverty and social exclusion has been a chequered one, with concepts endlessly being redefined and past ideas revisited as the pendulum swings among Right and Left ideologies and among individual and collective responsibilities. In the last two decades, the UK has witnessed the importation of the 'underclass' debate from the USA, a decrease in the application of the concept of 'poverty', and the adoption of the concept of 'social exclusion' from France, with each concept having taken on different definitions for different people depending on their particular political, moral or academic persuasions (Barry, 1999).
Social exclusion has attracted growing attention in contemporary Britain. Although the concept originated in continental Europe it has now entered the government's policy process.
The term 'social exclusion' probably originated in France, where it was used to concern those who slipped through the social insurance system; the socially exuded were those who were administratively excluded by the state (Lenoir 1994, Duffy 1997 cited in Burchardt et al, 1999, p.228).
An individual is socially excluded if:
1. He or she is geographically resident in a society;
2. For reasons beyond his or her control, he or she cannot participate in the normal activities of citizens in society and;
3. He or she would like to participate.
Social exclusion focuses primarily on relational issues; in other words inadequate social participation, lack of social integration and lack of power. On the contrary, poverty is seen as static phenomenon, concerning people's economic situation at one point in time, while social exclusion represents a multi-dimensional perspective focussing on the process that lead to a situation of exclusion and, for that matter, poverty (Burchardt et al, 1999, p.229).
Poverty and social exclusion are both concepts that concern social disadvantages of either individuals or groups of people. However, they are...