Social Inclusion : Origins, concepts and key themes


The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the origins of the concepts of social inclusion and exclusion and of key themes and emerging debates about social inclusion in Australia and selected overseas countries. The concepts of social inclusion and exclusion are closely related, and it is difficult to discuss social inclusion without also discussing social exclusion. Throughout this paper, the discussion switches between social exclusion and inclusion as two ends of a single dimension. The paper first provides a brief overview of the concept of social exclusion, how it is used and some of the issues surrounding its definition. It then examines some of the dimensions of social inclusion, before considering the characteristics and relationships of poverty, deprivation and social exclusion. The international experience of social inclusion policies is then sketched, with reference to the UK and the EU. Issues associated with identifying the socially excluded and measuring progress in addressing social exclusion are then discussed. The potential benefits, limitations and risks of a social inclusion agenda are discussed. Sections follow on locational disadvantage, jobless families, children at risk, child poverty, employment of people with a disability, and homelessness. The importance of relationships in protecting against social exclusion and promoting social inclusion is briefly discussed. Policy approaches are next discussed. The paper ends with a summary and brief consideration of directions for development of an Australian approach to social inclusion.

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