Social Exclusion

Social Exclusion

Social Exclusion

Social Exclusion


Reviews of the First Edition:

thoughtful, critical, comprehensive, genuine Byrne's workshould prove compulsory reading for any critical and nuancedview of social exclusion.
Progress in Human Geography

The presentation of a single, coherent argument is one of the strengths of this book [It] fills a gap in the debate on social exclusion.
Political Studies

'Social Exclusion' is a key phrase in social policy and social politics across most of contemporary Europe. It is a description of the condition of individuals, households, neighbourhoods, ethnic and other 'identity' groups, who can be identified as being excluded from society.

The second edition of this widely read book explores developments in social theory, social experience and social policy in relation to Social Exclusion. The first part examines the origins of the term and implications of the difference between the ideas of 'exclusion', 'underclass', 'residuum' and related concepts. The discussion is informed by the application of Complexity Theory. In the updated second part, the theoretical account is developed through a detailed review of the dynamics of individual lives in a changing social order. Income equality, spatial division, and exclusion in relation to health, education and cultural provision and processes are examined in a range of societies in Europe and North America.

The last part contains a new chapter outlining the content and impact of national and international policies which have been specifically developed to address issues of exclusion.

This is important reading for students on social sciences courses including sociology, social theory and social policy.


The social sciences contribute to a greater understanding of the workings of societies and dynamics of social life. They are often, however, not given due credit for this role and much writing has been devoted to why this should be the case. At the same time we are living in an age in which the role of science in society is being re-evaluated. This has led to both a defence of science as the disinterested pursuit of knowledge and an attack on science as nothing more than an institutionalized assertion of faith with no greater claim to validity than mythology and folklore. These debates tend to generate more heat than light.

In the meantime the social sciences, in order to remain vibrant and relevant, will reflect the changing nature of these public debates. In so doing they provide mirrors upon which we gaze in order to understand not only what we have been and what we are now, but to inform ideas about what we might become. This is not simply about understanding the reasons people give for their actions in terms of the contexts in which they act, as well as analyzing the relations of cause and effect in the social, political and economic spheres, but about the hopes, wishes and aspirations that people, in their different cultural ways, hold.

In any society that claims to have democratic aspirations, these hopes and wishes are not for the social scientist to prescribe. For this to happen it would mean that the social sciences were able to predict human behaviour with certainty. This would require one theory and one method applicable to all times and places. The physical sciences do not live up to such stringent criteria, whilst the conditions in societies which provided for this outcome would be intolerable. Why? Because a necessary condition of human freedom is the ability to have acted otherwise and to imagine and practice different ways of organizing societies and living together.

It does not follow from the above that social scientists do not have a . . .

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