Social exclusion is a concept used in many parts of the world to characterise contemporary forms of social disadvantage. Dr. Lynn Todman, director of the Institute on Social Exclusion at the Adler School of Professional Psychology, suggests that social exclusion refers to processes in which individuals and entire communities of people are systematically blocked from rights, opportunities and resources (e.g. housing, employment, healthcare, civic engagement, democratic participation and due process) that are normally available to members of society and which are key to social integration.
The outcome of multiple deprivations that prevent individuals or groups from participating fully in the economic, social, and political life of the society in which they live.
Another definition of this sociological term is as follows:
Social exclusion is a multidimensional process of progressive social rupture, detaching groups and individuals from social relations and institutions and preventing them from full participation in the normal, normatively prescribed activities of the society in which they live.
An inherent problem with the term, however, is the tendency of its use by practitioners who define it to fit their argument. It is a term used widely in the United Kingdom and Europe, and was first utilized in France It is used across disciplines including education, sociology, psychology, politics and economics.
In social excluding communities, weak social networking limits the circulation of information about jobs, political activities, and community events.
Social exclusion relates to the alienation or disenfranchisement of certain people within a society. It is often connected to a person's social class, educational status, relationships in childhood and living standards and how these might affect access to various opportunities. It also applies to some degree to people with a disability, to minority men and women of all races, of all sexual orientations and gender identities (the LGBT community), to the elderly, and to youth (Youth Exclusion). Anyone who deviates in any perceived way from the norm of a population may become subject to coarse or subtle forms of social exclusion. Additionally, communities may self-exclude by removing themselves physically from the larger community, for example, in the gated community model.
Most of the characteristics listed in the following paragraphs are present together in studies of social exclusion, due to exclusion's multidimensionality. One of the best descriptions of social exclusion and social inclusion are that they are on a continuum on a vertical plane below and above the 'social horizon'; they have a ten-phase modulating ("phase" because they increase and decrease [modulate] with time) social structure: race, geographic location, class structure, globalization, social issues, personal habits and appearance, education, religion, economics and politics.