Social Exclusion

Social exclusion is a term that is often used along side that of poverty. The two terms and the conditions that they describe are related but not exactly the same, although the difference between them is not easily defined. Social exclusion is commonly referred to as the lack of material income (the core concept in poverty). While many socially excluded people are materially poor, their exclusion can occur in other ways for example: – in unequal opportunities, powerlessness, loss of dignity, marginalisation from mainstream society etc. For example the travelling community often feel that they are excluded from society, as they are not made feel welcome and given the same opportunities as those living long term in a community.

The social exclusion Unit was created to help the new Labour government tackle social exclusion and is answerable to the Prime Minister. Its own expert definition is:

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‘Social exclusion is a shorthand term for what can happen when people or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime environments, bad health, poverty and family breakdown.’

What the unit is trying to emphasise is that social exclusion is about more than income poverty – it’s about being shut out, fully or partially, from any of the social, economic, political or cultural systems, within a society.

The social Exclusion Unit tries not to portray the socially excluded as underclass while trying to get them back into education, training or even working.

Population Diversity

A population is a group of people or organisms of a particular species living in a given geographic area. And diversity is the number of species in a particular community or habitat.

Population diversity may be measured in terms of the populations’ demographics, such as numbers of individuals present, and the proportional representation of different age classes and sexes. However, it can be difficult to measure demography and genetics for all species. Therefore, a more practical way of defining a population, and measuring its diversity, is by the space it occupies. The area occupied by a population is most effectively defined by the ecological boundaries that are important to the population for example, a particular region and type of vegetation for a population of greenflies, or a particular pond for a population of fish.

Populations can be categorized according to the difference between them. Isolated and genetically diverse populations of a single species may be referred to as subspecies according to some (but not all) species concepts. Populations that show less genetic divergence might be recognized as variants or races. Individual organisms may periodically disperse from one population to another, facilitating genetic exchange between the populations.

Poverty

Poverty is often described as being without. Even those who have shelter and food can class themselves as being poor and living in poverty. What people class as poverty is different in different countries for example people living in America have a completely different opinion of what they see poverty as than people living in Africa.

Poverty is a relative concept as there are different degrees, these include:

1. Absolute Poverty – This occurs when people just about meet or even fall below the fulfilment of universal basic needs. This is having water, food, clothing, good sanitation and shelter. This is commonly associated with third world countries and people tend to have the attitude that this doesn’t happen in the UK when in-fact absolute poverty can occur in the richest of countries. Britain has 2% of people under the line of absolute poverty, while this may seem like a small statistic it does infact account for quite a large number of people.

2. Relative Poverty – This occurs when people live below the generally accepted standard of living, even though universal basic needs are usually met. This kind of poverty exists throughout the world, and is probably the most common form of poverty in richer countries such as the UK.

There are many causes of poverty some including – unemployment/recession, natural disasters, ill health, debt, redundancy, mental health problems, discrimination within a society, lack of knowledge, lack of opportunities, etc.

Social Capital

Social capital relates to resources available within social groups, such as families, community, firms, social clubs and also the networks of mutual support, reciprocity, trust and obligation. It can be accumulated when people interact with others in families, workplaces, neighbourhoods, and local associations.

Social capital has emerged as an area of interest both nationally and internationally. There is a widely held view that social and economic outcomes of individuals, families and communities are better in areas and for groups where there are higher levels of social capital. Policy interest focuses more on the nature of the relationship between social capital and outcomes in areas such as health, education, work, and income, as well as the ways in which social capital can be fostered to develop stronger communities.

Social capital is the attitude, spirit and willingness of people to engage collevitive and civic activities. It enables communities to collaborate and cooperate through mechanisms such as networks, shared trust, norms and values to achieve mutual benefits. People can then go on to solve common problems in todays society.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines social capital as: “networks, together with shared norms, values and understandings which facilitate cooperation within or among groups”.

Inequality

Inequality refers to the unequal distribution of valued resources and opportunities in society. Inequality is not difference. To say that people are unequal is saying that some people are disadvantaged compared to others; inequality is disadvantage in a social context. The main inequalities in today’s society are class, gender, race and inequalities in income and wealth.

After the Black Report was published doubt was raised over the effectiveness of the National Health Service (NHS) as to how effective it was and if every one did indeed receive free access at the point of entry. Doubt was also raised over income distribution about the effectiveness and usefulness of how public money was spent on social security to improve the ‘lot of the poor’ and the high taxes paid by the rich. Each and every human being has a right to live a long, healthy life. In the UK, as in many other countries, this opportunity is unevenly shared. The difference of good health and ill-health are notably traceable to social class, gender, ethnicity, age and disability. For example, people in the unskilled working class are more likely to have a serious long term illness than professional people, woman usually live longer than men, Scottish-born people are more likely to die from lung cancer than people born in England, and some disabled people aren’t eligible for heart transplants. This shows that there are still serious inequalities existant in todays society which some people have no control over, as someone with a disability that needs a heart transplant has no control over the inequality he/she faces.