Why are some people socially excluded? Are they excluded by society or their own behaviour?
In this essay I will aim to discuss why some people are socially excluded and whether their social exclusion is as a result of individual behaviour or a consequence of the forces of society that are ultimately beyond the control of the individual. There is much difficulty when trying to understand as well as explain the term/ idea that is Social exclusion, as writers/institutions have varying degrees (and at times conflicting ideas) of what “social exclusion” is, who it includes or rather excludes and why some people become socially excluded from the wider society, whether it be through levels of human agency, the impact of institutions and or changes in legislation. Barry (2002) “SOCIAL EXCLUSION” as working definition is comparatively agree as Individual that are unable to participate or have full involvement in “key activities” of the societies in which they belong or are a part of. Legrand, Piachaud, Burckhardt (2002).
There can be a multitude of differing factors involved leading to an individual or group being excluded from society, however there are many key social problems that have a direct impact on how “social exclusion” is affected by a large majority individuals/groups. A good example of a key issue is Inequality. Giddens (2006). Inequality affects individuals, in short, by way of differences ,such as Income, Health, Education, Housing, Disability, ‘Race’ and Ethnicity, Gender (and roles), Age Etc Fulcher and Scott (2011). Which essentially in itself (though interrelated), socially excludes/ isolates these groups from one another Le Grand et al (2002). Now although, “social Exclusion” is not restricted to the confines of any one particular Sub -issue mentioned (though encapsulates them all to some degree), it would be a modest assertion to agree that any individual/group affected by any of these inequalities will undoubtedly be socially excluded of full involvement from “key activities” of the wider society Le Grand et al (2002). An example of this exclusion could be a person/ group that lived on a deteriorating council estate with low achieving schools and minimal employment opportunities within that their area, could potentially be less able to ‘participate’ in activities which would achieve self betterment Giddens (2006) , say that of an individual/group living in a in which they own, in an area with reputable schools and jobs are aplenty.
This highlights Social exclusion for the former in terms of housing, education, employment as well as income. Though there are numerous examples of how inequality can have a huge impact on individuals’/groups being socially excluded through decision(s) made by forces beyond their control, this in itself can only account for a particular group experiencing Social exclusion and gives no justification for the wider society and how other individual/groups experience social exclusion. Fulcher and Scott(2011). So when considering the many dimensions of Social Exclusion as a concept of “someone or something being excluded …. it raises the question of personal responsibility” Personal responsibility or human agency is the way in which social exclusion is not experienced by forces beyond the control of the individual , but in fact a personal choice not to participate with the activities of wider society, thus excluding themselves from society by their own behaviour Giddens (2006).
Using the previous example of inequality, “an individual could choose to turn down a good job to become economically active or abstain from voting in political elections” Giddens(2006 p.356). Though this is an example the that focuses on inequality, social exclusion is a much broader concept than just that, and between sociologist there is much debate on how much agency really does go into social exclusion as a personal autonomy Barry(200), when comparing it to other groups that do chose to isolate themselves from the wider society , for instance , affluent individuals groups that choose private health care over the NHS or private schools as opposed to public schools, it is fair to suggest that there is indeed a level of personal responsibility Fulcher and Scott (2011)