chapter  1
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5 Social exclusion and the threads between the spheres

We have proposed that social exclusion and connection can be considered in three broad spheres of action: individual agency, community and society. Our approach has similarities to that of Gallie (2004), who presents his ideas on social isolation by describing three major spheres of sociability: the primary (micro) sphere involving connection to immediate family and household residents; the secondary (meso) sphere regarding interactions with people outside the household, and the tertiary (macro) sphere involving participation in external structures and the broader environment. There are also resonances with three levels (biographical, life-world and structural) used in Steinert and Pilgram (2007). Our approach also has strong similarities with the relational framework described in Abrams and Christian (2007), whose analysis distinguishes four different elements: the actors in an exclusion relationship (sources and targets of exclusion), the relationship context (across a series of levels from intrapersonal through to societal and trans-national), the modes/forms of exclusion (ideological/moral, representational, categorical, physical, communicative) and the dynamics of the exclusion relationship (the why and when exclusion happens). Where our emphasis differs, however, is on its focus on the interactions between the different elements in the system that create and recreate exclusionary relationships. We have seen similar themes occurring within these different spheres, such

as deprivation as individual poverty, underserved communities and population inequities of resource allocation or availability; and isolation as family breakdown, fractured communities and disengaged populations. Therefore in order to understand the dynamics of exclusion and connection across different layers of human action and interaction, it is important to reflect on how these concentric spheres influence each other and the common pathways that run through them. The following section discusses the ‘threads’ that extend between individuals, communities and populations. The threads that permeate our daily spheres of activity can be the ‘snakes and

ladders’ of disadvantage, being the dynamic processes and pathways to exclusion and inclusion/connectedness. For social exclusion, these threads can be the labour market, low income, unemployment, education, ill health, housing, transport, crime and fear of crime, language, mobility, social policies and social

capital (Buchanan 2007). Issues relating to housing policy are considered in Chapter 2.4 by Henderson-Wilson, education policy by Stagnitti and Jennings in Chapter 2.8, and health policy by Barter-Godfrey and Taket in Chapter 2.14. For inclusion/connectedness, these threads act as the ladders of opportunity

and access, acceptance, identity and citizenship (Sullivan 2002). Owens’ Chapter 2.5 considers the specific case of access and people with disabilities, while Stagnitti and Jennings, in Chapter 2.8 look at the role of a pre-school reading preparation program on social inclusion of marginalised families. These threads can be the outcomes, structures, processes and barriers that lead to inclusion and exclusion, and can affect many domains within everyday life, such as health, public order, economic stability and debt, integration and neighbourhood decline/renewal (Welshman 2006a, 2006b). However, these barriers and opportunities are not evenly distributed through-

out a society; social exclusion often reflects unfair economic, power and class structures (Labonte 2004). Burdens of social exclusion may be geographic, demographic or social; and include age, ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality, disability, citizenship and socio-economic ones (Train et al. 2000; Jarman 2001). The comprehensive report of the WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, chaired by Michael Marmot (CSDH 2008) makes this, and the links to consequent burdens of ill-health and lack of wellbeing, abundantly clear. There are particular challenges for different groups. Nevill, in Chapter 2.11, looks at the case of older people, while Martin and PallottaChiarolli (Chapter 2.12) examine the complex issues involved in bisexual young people, marginalisation and mental health in relation to substance abuse. These life chances, rather than life choices, represent threads of burden that are inequitably concentrated in vulnerable, disempowered, deprived and poor parts of a society, geographically and socially. Social justice calls for action to achieve the absence or alleviation of these experiences and social biases that leave people ‘captive, bound and double-ironed’ (Dickens 1843), based on three principles of social justice: equal rights to basic liberties, equality of opportunity, and the balance of inequalities to favour the least advantaged (Lutz 2002; Rawls 1971). In this way, exclusion and connectedness are not necessarily converse ideas, but are embedded within broader principles of justice, equity and fairness. It is with the idea of embeddedness that we next consider our threads as the connections within and between societies. Social capital, contested concept though it is, represents the sticky threads

that glue us together and is a useful heuristic to draw links between the micro, meso and macro levels of disadvantage and our three spheres of action (Cattell 2004; Schuller et al. 2000). It has long philosophical roots, but was revived as a concept in the last two decades of the twentieth century, with structures, functions and resources being important dimensions in understanding the role of connections in social exclusion and inclusion (Morrow 2001; Patulny and Svendsen 2007). Following Putnam’s model, bonding social capital is ‘social glue’, analo-

gous to Marx’s bounded solidarity and Durkheim’s mechanical solidarity,

where social cohesion is shared by people with similarities, which can range from similar ideals and objectives, similar activities or mutual social relationships. Bridging capital is ‘social oil’ and may be parallel to Marx’s aggregate social capital and Durkheim’s organic solidarity, as a source of social cohesion through the networks, cooperation, reliance and reciprocity between different groups and strata in civic society (see Marx 1894; Durkheim 1893; Putnam 1993, 2000; Aldridge et al. 2002; Wilson 2006). Whereas these bonding and bridging forms of social capital have different social functions for the common good and civic resources, earlier models emphasised civic resource structures and accessing individualised benefits. Bourdieu describes social capital as first the social relationships that facil-

itate individual access to resources, and second the proliferation and quality of resources, so that social capital requires civic investment to develop social capital structures, which cumulatively foster other forms of capital, such as economic, cultural and human capital, as the outcome of social action and connection (see Bourdieu 1985, 1986). Social capital is therefore a comment on both the prevalence of sticky threads within a community or population, and also, on whether or not these threads permeate into the sphere of a particular individual. Complementary to these two approaches, Halpern’s model combines com-

ponents, functions and levels. Components include networks, norms and sanctions. Functions draw on principles of bridging and bonding capital, as well as linking capital that bridges between asymmetric power relationships, and levels of analysis and action cover micro-level close family and friends, meso-level communities and associations and the macro, national level (Halpern 2005). In this way, there are top-down threads, structures and sanctions imposed through population processes surrounding individual ‘hubs’, coupled with bottom-up threads and functional norms generated within communities. This relatively broader ‘Catherine wheel’ conceptualisation of social capital is useful for capturing the complexities of social factors and emphasising the embeddedness of capital and cohesion processes. Models of social capital, in particular Halpern’s but also its antecedents,

can be helpful to draw out and explain the intuitive threads running through social spheres and experiences, moving beyond the more categorical approaches to threads as barriers, ladders and shackles. Unlike principles of equity and access, social capital is not necessarily a benign process and may be both inclusive and exclusive; mutuality and affiliation can reinforce inequalities, concentrate power without mandate and quango community norms, including criminality and exclusion (Lin 2001; Portes 1998). Bonding capital in particular may increase exclusion by protecting the boundaries of the in-group and norms of participation (Piachaud 2002; Leonard 2004). Bourdieu’s approach to social capital (Bourdieu 1985, 1986) recognises the inherent value of conflict and power-negotiation in developing social capital, trust and communityestablished advancement, and celebrates differences within populations, even when that leads to competition or difference in ideals.