chapter  1
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4 Social exclusion at the societal level

Social exclusion theories of population and society have evolved over time, and definitions of social exclusion are closely linked to the ways social integration at the societal level have been defined and theorised. Silver (1994) distinguished three paradigms describing social exclusion, and our discussion of these draws on her paper and Saraceno’s (2001) commentary on it: solidarity, specialisation and monopoly. The first of these paradigms, the solidarity paradigm, was dominant in

France, where exclusion was seen as a deficiency of solidarity (having both cultural and moral connotations) within society rather than an economic or political phenomenon. The paradigm can be traced to French republican notions of solidarity. The solidarity paradigm is aligned with Levitas’ (1998) social integrationist discourse. The second paradigm, specialisation, is Anglo-American in origin and is

based on liberal-individualism. Here exclusion results from the operation of discrimination and inability to overcome various different types of barriers. There is a shared understanding of inclusion as occurring mainly through paid work so that it is necessary ‘to make work pay’, however the British tradition recognises that social exclusion also involves access to social rights. This paradigm is aligned with Levitas’ (1998) moral underclass discourse. Fear of a permanent underclass exists, suggesting the poor may be permanently excluded. Criticism has been directed to this line of thinking, arguing it is important to differentiate between groups who go through transient phases of poverty compared with those who are permanently poor or excluded. The third paradigm, the monopoly or social closure paradigm stems from

Weberian work in the antipositivist tradition, and is prevalent in many northern European countries. This paradigm foregrounds power relations, pointing to powerful class and status groups, which have distinct social and cultural identities as well as institutions, and which use social closure to restrict the access of other groups to different types of valued resources, including good jobs, good benefits, education, urban locations, valued patterns of consumption, etc. This paradigm is also aligned with Levitas’ (1998) redistributive discourse. In examining this paradigm, Saraceno (2001: 8)

commented that this ‘points to the material and cultural/symbolic privileges of the insiders as the cause of the exclusion of outsiders’. Implicit in the foregoing discussion is an emphasis on understanding

exclusion in terms of processes (rather than as a state) and further, understanding these processes as particularly dynamic. This means, in understanding these processes we need to identify both the factors affecting the processes of exclusion as well as the particular groups experiencing exclusion. Room and Britton (2006) draw attention to the dynamics of social exclu-

sion in terms of interactions between different levels, changing circumstances at the level of households are mediated by processes at the institutional level. As they identify, organisations and institutions whose activities shape household fates do so in ways that are socially unequal. Households that are already disadvantaged are in general less able to shape these institutional priorities and processes. More serious perhaps, is that under some circumstances, factors can progressively reinforce each other to such an extent that some households are sent along catastrophic downward trajectories, while the institutions that support them are progressively degraded. The dramatic effects of negative feedback loops in the system are well illustrated in Wilson’s (1987) analysis of the US urban ghetto. Citizenship is an important form of participation at the macro, state level,

and lack of or ineligibility for citizenship is a form of social exclusion, a form for which examples abound. Berman and Phillips (2000) discuss examples such as where children of foreign parents born in Austria do not automatically gain citizenship, and consequently suffer restricted access to education and employment. Other sources of exclusion at the state or national level can be found in various forms of discriminatory legislation that establishes different levels of rights for different population groups. One example with far-reaching consequences is the status and rights of indigenous peoples. The extent to which the rights of indigenous peoples have been compromised varies across the globe, and their exclusion has often been supported by legislation which has taken a long time to overturn as discriminatory (Stavenhagen 2005). Within Australia, exclusion of indigenous people has also been maintained through official discourses such as law, government reports, policy and program objectives, media commentary and scholarship, as Havemann (2005) illustrates in his analysis of the origins of and the consequences of exclusion still manifest in the placelessness of Australia’s indigenous people. He identifies a history of some steps towards reconciliation, but also a clear statement of where these fall short. Since his analysis, further positive steps, including Kevin Rudd’s historic apology have taken place, but these fall far short of removing the exclusionary processes that continue to saturate Australian federal and state institutions and their policies. Humpage (2006), considering the case of the Maori in New Zealand,

illustrates the need for societies containing indigenous peoples to develop policy that reflects their own socio-political circumstances, rather than simply adopt policy discourses that are popular internationally. She explores how the

goal of an ‘inclusive society’, which has framed New Zealand social policy since 1999, promotes an equal opportunity approach that sits in tension with the specific needs and rights of Maori as indigenous peoples and partners in the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. The New Zealand ‘Closing the Gaps’ strategy of the 1990s stressed that the socio-economic exclusion of Maori set them apart from other New Zealand citizens. In contrast, the foreshore and seabed policy framed Maori as the same as other New Zealanders; they deserved the right to enjoy full protection of the seabed and foreshore but only under an equal citizenship approach, not a Treaty rights framework. The social exclusion/ inclusion discourse could not conceive of rights additional to citizenship, such as indigenous and Treaty rights. In addition, despite promising to tackle the ‘root causes’ of exclusion through social investment, the Labour-coalition government used this discourse to shift away from endorsing a structural explanation for Maori socio-economic exclusion and from accepting that a shift in power between the state and Maori is necessary for the latter to be included. Takács (2006) reviews a wide range of European research which demon-

strates the vulnerability of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in EU member states to social exclusion in most aspects of their lives, as was also demonstrated by Heaphy and Yip (2006) in their work on older lesbians and gay men. Exclusion has a geographic dimension, as participation in society depends

on proximity, mobility, networks and location. Even being located in a lower socio-economic environment may precipitate discrimination at many levels Klasen (n.d.). Khakee et al. (1999) demonstrates the extent to which minority and migrant groups have been excluded from the process of urban renewal in various European contexts. Changes in the employment sphere and transformation in the relationships between waged work, gender and class in McDowell’s (2000) study have resulted in a situation where, in terms of education and employment, young men in particular are falling behind and into economic exclusion. This is the case, in the USA, for African-American males (Sanchez-Jankowski 1999; Johnson et al. 2000), but also for migrant groups in European cities (Khakee et al. 1999). Kenna (2007) reports a study of the contribution of master planned estates

to polarisation in the urban landscape. Her research analysed the intentions, imagery and outcomes of a specific master planned estate in suburban Sydney. The developers and place marketers played a key role in the construction of an image of an exclusive and prestigious estate for white nuclear families. This ultimately superseded some of the more socially inclusive planning objectives for the area. Her conclusion was that there is an explicit connection between intentions and imagery, which encourages socio-spatial polarisation. Selwyn (2002) viewed the UK’s use of information and communication

technology (ICT) as a social inclusion strategy as shifting attention from the real causes of social exclusion. Nevertheless, Van Winden (2001) reports the results of a study into the beneficial contributions of ICTs in three European

cities (Manchester, Rotterdam and The Hague) on participation in social networks, local decision making and political processes and economic life. No convincing evidence was found that social networks of excluded groups were being strengthened; nor were there any signs of increased political participation and influence of deprived groups. However, for the economic dimension of exclusion, there were some indications that ICT policy may lead to reintegration in the economic system. Van Winden advances a number of reasons why the results were not as favourable as hoped, including insufficient time for full adoption, and concludes that there is a role for ICT in the support of social inclusion policy, and this depends upon, among other things, the capacity of urban management to align the application of ICT with other social inclusion policies. Fairclough’s interesting analysis of the language used by New Labour in

Britain yields the central conclusion that: ‘In the language of New Labour social exclusion is an outcome rather than a process – it is a condition people are in rather than something that is done to them’ (Fairclough 2000: 54). Hence the conception of social exclusion drawn on is the weakest of the weak versions. Byrne’s own analysis of the UK concludes that ‘the character of UK “anti-exclusion” policies and the form of understanding of social exclusion that informs them actually contributes to the development of an excluding post-industrial capitalism based on poor work for many and insecurity for most’ (Byrne 2005: 1). His further analysis focused on the US, France and Germany leads him to conclude that ‘advanced industrialised societies are converging on a norm of social politics organized around a flexible labour market and structural social exclusion’. In other words, social exclusion is something required by advanced market capitalism for its functioning. As Finlayson (1999) points out, others, like Giddens (1998), are not convinced that capitalism has structural tendencies towards exclusion and oppression. It was to Giddens’ views that the UK Labour government under Tony Blair looked for the theoretical underpinning of its view on the third way and its policy stance on social exclusion. Byrne’s analysis further identifies how the weak usage of social exclusion,

and Fairclough’s adjectival as opposed to verb form use of the expression, positions exclusion as a condition rather than a process. This is exceptionally important in helping construct the range of possible social politics in postindustrial societies and in stifling challenges to the view of market capitalism is the only possible form of future social arrangement. Note however that Byrne’s analysis, although it calls for a recognition of a

strong form of social exclusion (defined as that form that emphasises the role of those who help constitute the relations of excluding) and aims for solutions that reduce the powers of exclusion, is of a limited nature in that it concentrates on social exclusion as economic exploitation (a political economic analysis) and not as domination. So that for Byrne, the question of exclusion on the basis of gender, sexuality, race, etc., although he recognises all as being valid – referring to this as ‘excluded identities’ – is not what is dealt with in

the current debate on social exclusion. This is a limitation of his analysis – in that he ignores the multiple forms of social exclusion that are alluded to in discussion, for example, in regeneration circles at the local level in non-political circles (Raco 2002), and his field of analysis is restricted to the economic sector within the national policy arena. So while his analysis is extremely important, in this book we want to turn the main focus of our attention to the other sectors in society, and the different spheres of action.