We explain what exclusion or segregation is and what types exist. In addition, we tell you what the causes of social exclusion are.

A man suffers economic exclusion and lives in poverty.
Economic exclusion leads to unemployment and poverty.

What is exclusion?

Exclusion or segregation is the expulsion, elimination or omission of an element from the group to which it until then belonged, or from the group to which it should belong. What is excluded is denied the possibility of participation, that is, of being part of something, and depending on the context it can be individuals, groups of people, administrative organizations or any element of the same group.

The word “exclusion” comes from Latin excludere (“reject”, “expel”), made up of the voices ex- (“from” or “from the inside out”) and claudere (“close” or “enclose”). So exclusion can be understood as the closure of an area or category, which leaves out some of its former belonging elements. Or, in other words, expelling someone, preventing them from re-entering the group. The opposite of exclusion is inclusion.

The exact meaning of the term exclusion may vary depending on the context and the topic to which it refers, but it retains the meaning of expulsion or omission, whether arbitrary or voluntary (in the latter case, we speak of exclude). It is, however, a word widely used in the social sciences and politics, generally understood as a synonym for social exclusion.

See also: Discrimination

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Types of exclusion

There can be many types of exclusion, but the most important and common uses of the term are usually the following:

Social exclusion

Is related to the segregation, persecution and invisibility of an individual or group of individuals within society as a whole. This can occur in many ways and to different degrees, and usually goes hand in hand with economic, labor and educational exclusion. The excluded group may be denied entry to certain spaces and care in certain institutions, or may be subjected to differentiated treatment, which usually includes humiliation, contempt, aggression or indifference.

Social exclusion can have religious, ethnic, sexual or class foundations, and is an important factor in the production of social resentment, since socially excluded individuals and groups experience a significant reduction in their quality of life by not being integrated into society.

Economic exclusion

Is related to the expulsion of an individual or group of individuals from the productive circuit and its economic benefits, which constitutes a sentence to unemployment and poverty, or to job insecurity and exploitation. Economic exclusion usually goes hand in hand with social and educational exclusion.

The main consequence of this type of exclusion is extreme inequalitythat is, in the same country some few have many resources and many others, on the other hand, have very little.

Educational exclusion

It has to do with the segregation of certain individuals within the traditional school system, whether because they are directly or indirectly prevented from attending classes and begin or complete your training, or because they are a victim of abuse while inside the educational facilitydisaffection and abandonment, which eventually leads to school dropout.

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School exclusion is very common among impoverished sectors of society and among women in fundamentalist societies. Its main consequence is that it makes it impossible for the excluded person to perform better quality jobs, which often translates into poverty, and at the same time impoverishes their ability to make decisions, by depriving them of the minimum knowledge essential for life.

Causes of social exclusion

Social exclusion can occur due to multiple factors, such as:

  • Religious factors. Segregation for religious reasons is probably one of the oldest that exists. It occurs when a minority practicing a religion different from the majority is condemned, persecuted or expelled, especially in fundamentalist nations or nations with an official religion. Given that almost all religions claim to have the “true” faith, the others are relegated to being harmful, deviant or perverted cults, and their practitioners, for that same reason, become persona non grata.
  • Ethnic factors. Another very old form of segregation is that which distinguishes between individuals according to their ethnicity, nationality or origin, and discriminates against minorities. In some cases, they may even be oppressed majorities (as in the case of the apartheid South African). Racism and xenophobia are the main ethnic factors that exist.
  • Class factors. The distinction between social classes is typical of industrial capitalist society. In this way, the lower strata are discriminated against, forcing them to consume low-quality products and services, or directly to do without some of them, which not only deteriorates their quality of life, but condemns them to reproduce the poverty they have already suffered. stagnate in their social class.
  • Sexual factors. In different degrees of severity, differentiation based on sex, gender identity and sexual orientation has also served to segregate different groups. The persecution of homosexuality, for example, or the sexism against which feminist groups have fought for centuries, are examples of this. Even today many religions condemn homosexuality and sentence women to a subordinate place, as occurs in Islamic fundamentalist governments.
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Social inclusion

Social inclusion is the opposite and reverse process of exclusion, which seeks to reintegrate segregated individuals into society, through economic, educational and cultural initiatives. of diverse nature.

Numerous international organizations, with the help of local governments, are dedicated to combating social exclusion in the world and promoting a different social landscape, one that is more inclusive for minorities, the lower classes and women. This is not a simple task, as it often involves confronting deeply rooted traditions that are usually defended by conservative sectors of society.

More in: Inclusion


  • “Exclusion” in the Language Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy.
  • “Etymology of Exclude” in the Online Spanish Etymological Dictionary.
  • “Social inclusion” on Wikipedia.
  • “Social and educational exclusion” in the National Institute of Educational Technologies and Teacher Training (Spain).