Social exclusion

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Social exclusion is a degree of dis empowerment where someone becomes either partially or wholly excluded from being able to participate in a community or society. There are a great many definitions of social exclusion, some of which are umbrella terms for a range of different social issues, but fundamentally social exclusion is characterized by dis empowerment to a degree where there is a loss of personal autonomy and restricted opportunities to participate in a community or society. .

Degrees of social exclusion

There are different degrees of social exclusion which can be measured by depth of the exclusion (how much someone is able to or prevented from participating in a community or society) and by dimension (the actual barriers which prevent or restrict someone being able to participate in a community or society). These barriers can be practical, financial, social, health related, cultural, emotional and psychological. Multi-dimensional social exclusion is when different barriers interact or coexist to cause the social exclusion.

The causes of social exclusion

There are probably as many different causes of social exclusion as there are people who experience it and unless you are the actual person experiencing social exclusion we advise against making any assumptions especially on the basis of academic studies. We all go through various experiences and situations in life, we all face difficult choices and decisions and it is generally pointless and counterproductive to pick through someone else's life history trying to find a reason why they are excluded from a society or community. That saying major causes include social issues as homelessness and unemployment, having a disability could cause someone to be excluded from society, a loss or deprivation of income (such as benefit sanctions) can push someone into social exclusion and then you have people who are affected by social stigma and discrimination by others.

The effects of social exclusion

Social exclusion can seriously inhibit someone's ability to live or function which can result in various profound and devastating effects on their life and their health. Social exclusion can often be a persistently stressful experience and often distressing, because the person affected wants to be able to function, interact with others and live like other people do but they have virtually no opportunity and thus no personal autonomy with which to interact and change their environmental circumstances.

Emotional trauma

Social exclusion often involves a great deal of emotional trauma. This is because the need to belong is one of the most powerful of human emotional needs and the need is unfulfilled which can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. However also the lack of a sense of social inclusion means that there are little or no opportunities for social interaction with others - some people can go months and even a year or more without anybody asking them how they are or having a normal social conversation with them - and this can impair cognitive functioning ability and lead to emotional issues, distrust towards other people as a result of feelings of abandonment and isolation, addictions (where substances are used to provide comfort in the absence of unfulfilled human social and emotional needs) and mental health issues. Without stimulation from social interaction the mind can become active in other ways and this can lead to rumination and issues with depression and anxiety.


By far social exclusion is a primary motivating factor towards suicide and suicide ideation as many people who are socially excluded often feel that they have nothing left to live for and can see no way out of their current situation.


Recovery from social exclusion is largely dependent on the depth and dimensions involved in the exclusion and involves empowering the individual affected so that they are able to reverse the process and recover emotionally and psychologically. This usually takes time.