“Circumstances of deprivation and disadvantage that extend beyond lack of material resources” (Alcock, 1997)
This quote reminds us that social exclusion can be a serious consequence of poverty. This essay shall conclude that poverty plays a significant role in an individual or community’s route to social exclusion, but remains one of several elements influencing that route. This will be achieved by discussing complexities surrounding definitions and causes of social exclusion and poverty and referral to academic research and political and media debate. An underlying assertion of this assignment is referred to by Alcock:
“Arguably it is the definition which lies at the heart of the task of understanding poverty. We must first know what poverty is before we can identify where and when it is occurring or attempt to measure it; and before we can begin anything to alleviate it.” (Alcock, 1993, cited by Blackmore, 2007, p27)
Social Exclusion is a relatively new concept, emerging from France in the 1970s, in comparison to Poverty, the existence of which has been acknowledged for centuries, harking back to the Bible’s proclamation that the “Poor will always be with us” (Matthew, 26:11) . To argue that poverty is the sole cause of social exclusion is complicated and refutable. Despite the Bible’s warning of poverty’s eternal existence, this has been refuted, most notably by right wing politicians (Becker, 1997, cited by Blackmore, 2007, p28.). Accepting its presence lies in understanding there are two types of poverty – absolute and relative. Absolute poverty describes the state of being completely without the means to sustain life (Alcock, 1997, p68). Inadequacies in absolute poverty led to the understanding of poverty in relative terms to what others have and how they live (Blackmore, Poverty, 2007).
As described in the previous concept definitions, the value of measuring and defining relative poverty was recognised in the work of Victorian philanthropists Booth...