Social exclusion, according to a report by Social Exclusion Knowledge Network (SEKN), consists of dynamic, multi-dimensional processes driven by unequal power relationships interacting across four main dimensions – economic, political, social and cultural – and at different levels including individual, household, group, community, country and global levels. It results in a continuum of inclusion/exclusion characterized by unequal access to resources, capabilities and rights which leads to health inequalities.
Thus, social exclusion is a process in which individuals are blocked from or denied full access to various rights, opportunities and resources that are normally available to members of a different group, and which are fundamental to social integration and observance of human rights within that particular group (e.g., housing, employment, healthcare, civic engagement, democratic participation, and due process).
According to a collective study by Ruth Levitas, Christina Pantazis, Eldin Fahmy, David Gordon, Eva Lloyd and Demi Patsios, social exclusion is also a complex and multi-dimensional process. It involves the lack or denial of resources, rights, goods and services, and the inability to participate in the normal relationships and activities, available to the majority of people in a society, whether in economic, social, cultural or political arenas. Social exclusion affects both the quality of life of individuals and the equity and cohesion of society as a whole.
However, there are degrees of severity of social exclusion. Severe or deep exclusion was defined by the authors as follows: “Deep exclusion refers to exclusion across more than one domain or dimension of disadvantage, resulting in severe negative consequences for quality of life, well-being and future life chances.”
Moreover, “constitutively exclusionary processes restrict participation in economic, social, political and cultural relationships which negatively impact on health and wellbeing. Instrumentally, these restrictions result in other deprivations, e.g. poor labor conditions or absence of paid work, leading to low income, poor nutrition, etc., which contribute to ill-health,” says SEKN report.
According to an article by Cas Mudde and Cristobal Rovira Kaltwasser, exclusionary populism defines ‘the people’ in a much stricter sense, generally being focused on a particular sociocultural group and antagonistic against minority groups. Today, European populism is predominantly exclusive. SEKN report is agree with the authors. That says social exclusion has most policy salience in Western Europe where it was first developed. Although it has spread well beyond the EU it does not have equal policy/action salience in other regions, nor does it have the same meanings across any particular global region. As a description of an extreme state of disadvantage, the concept is particularly problematic in regions and countries where large proportions of the population are living in poverty.
Meanwhile, alienation or disenfranchisement resulting from social exclusion can be connected to a person’s social class, race, skin color, religious affiliation, ethnic origin, educational status, childhood relationships, living standards, and or political opinions, and appearance. Such exclusionary forms of discrimination may also apply to people with a disability, minorities, LGBTQ+ people, drug users, institutional care leavers, the elderly and the young. Anyone who appears to deviate in any way from perceived norms of a population may thereby become subject to coarse or subtle forms of social exclusion.
Many communities experience social exclusion, such as racial (e.g., black, untouchables or Low Castes or Dalits in Indian Caste System) and economic (e.g., Romani) communities. Another example is the Aboriginal community in Australia. The marginalization of Aboriginal communities is a product of colonization. As a result of colonialism, Aboriginal communities lost their land, were forced into destitute areas, lost their sources of livelihood, and were excluded from the labor market. Additionally, Aboriginal communities lost their culture and values through forced assimilation and lost their rights in society.
Moreover, Ben Margulies states in an article that exclusionary populism defines ‘the people’ as excluding not only the elite, but also some other group of people who are not within the elite, but who are resident in the state. “Almost all definitions of right-populism stress a focus on an ethnically homogenous nation or people,” he says. While, according to an article by Hans-Georg Betz, the core of exclusionary populism consists of a restrictive notion of citizenship, which holds that genuine democracy is based on a culturally, if not ethnically, homogeneous community; that only long-standing citizens are full members of civil society; and that society’s benefits should only accrue to those who have made a substantial contribution to it.
According to the article by Mudde and Kaltwasser, one of the key aspects of the populist radical right programme is welfare chauvinism, where a fairly generous welfare state is generally supported for the ‘own people’, but ‘aliens’ (such as immigrants, refugees or Roma) are to be excluded from most of the provisions. Thus, specific groups suffer from political exclusion and they are prevented from participating (fully) in the democratic system and they are consciously not represented in the arena of public contestation.
Grigoris Markou writes in an article that exclusionary populism is expressed by extreme right-wing parties and is associated with nationalism. Exclusionary populism understands the people as an ethnically or culturally homogeneous unit and excludes people (migrants, minorities etc.) on the grounds of racist and nativist reasons. Markou also asserts that exclusionary populism appears mainly in former colonialist countries (such as in Northern Europe) because its nativism is that of the colonizer. Meanwhile, “when exclusionary populism that vilifies marginalized populations gains traction in dominant discourse, it risks normalizing racism, nativism, and xenophobia,” writes Stijn van Kessel in an article.