Social exclusion

Experimental visualization of narrower problems
Other Names:
Socially rejected people
Socially isolated groups
Marginal groups

Contemporary mass society creates individuals and social groups who are left on the cultural and economic edges, and certainly out of the mainstream process of decision-making. This tendency toward homogeneity at the centre of things makes consensus much easier, because only a part of society is included in it. Minorities of any kind play a fixed role that does not disturb the central processes overly much. This marginalizing process erodes society at its base, because there is no common reference point for people.


Rapid population growth and the pace of urbanization are escalating land prices in settlements, squeezing the poor off land they have occupied, often for decades, and marginalizing them in urban housing markets.

Analysis of diverse cases -- including those of South Africa, Pakistan, and the Philippines -- shows that environmental scarcities expand marginal groups that need help from government by constraining rural economic development and by encouraging people to move into cities where they demand food, shelter, transport, energy, and jobs. In response, governments come under pressure to introduce subsidies of urban services which drain revenues and distort local markets.


There are consequences of a situation of permanent inequity over time: poor income distribution at the national and international levels gives rise to permanent situations of social exclusion. Exclusion is deeper and more definitive than poverty. Exclusion is the absence of participation, segregation, neglect and being forgotten. The existence of sectors that are excluded at the international and national levels leads to the development of some very particular feelings on the part of the sectors that are not excluded. The philosopher Julien Freund remarks that: "It would appear that exclusion is now part of normality in societies, and does not arouse any special moral or political conscience but instead evokes pity in the guise of the virtue of charity". The consequence of exclusion, as has been seen in the case of international cooperation, is this sentiment of pity. "It may be that the spread of many forms of exclusion, and pseudoexclusion, in society is a sign of the times".

Problem Type:
C: Cross-sectoral problems
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality
Date of last update
10.07.2019 – 17:18 CEST