Introduction and context
Marginalisation or social exclusion encompasses social disadvantage and pertains to the practice of treating people as if they are not important (Cambridge Dictionary) or relegating them to the fringes of society (Collins Dictionary). It is an active process that is the opposite of social inclusion and results in the alienation or disenfranchisement of certain groups of people in a society. This marginalisation can be based on socioeconomic status, social class, educational status, ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, legal status or a combination of a range of factors.
Social exclusion is a complex and multidimensional process. It involves the lack or denial of resources, rights, goods and services, and the inability to participate in the normal relationships and activities, available to the majority of people in a society, whether in economic, social, cultural or political arenas. It affects both the quality of life of individuals and the equity and cohesion of society as a whole. (Levitas et al., 2007: 9)
Discrimination and being treated differently and less advantageously in society can be related to a number of social characteristics such as gender, race/ethnicity, social class, disability, sexuality, age, and others. These groups are not homogenous in composition and experience, and there may be areas of social life in which some sections of a group are doing relatively well, while for others there is stark disparity.
It is beyond the scope of a single chapter to address all the groups that are marginalised in Britain today (for example on the basis of sexuality, religion, disability, age, gender) and therefore this chapter will mainly focus on communities that are marginalised due to socioeconomic status (poverty) and ethnicity.
Socioeconomic status and marginalization
Low socioeconomic status (SES) is related to profound levels of social exclusion. Bramley and Fitzpatrick (2015) reported on research funded by Lankelly Chase Foundation on severe and multiple disadvantage (SMD). This was defined as involvement in homelessness, substance misuse and the criminal justice system. Poverty was a universal experience for the group in their study and mental ill health was an additional complicating factor. They found that people affected by SMD are predominantly white men, aged 25–44 with long term histories of economic and social marginalisation and in most cases, childhood trauma of various kinds.