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Definitions of"Social exclusion" in the New Labour years have involved a denial ofstructural inequalities' - Assess the validity of this judgement.

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Introduction

Definitions of "Social exclusion" in the New Labour years have involved a denial of structural inequalities'. Assess the validity of this judgement. The explicit use of the term 'social exclusion' (SE) is relatively recent in origin in the UK. However it has been utilised in European social policy context for some time in particular through the 1990-94 EU anti-poverty programme focusing on the integration of the 'least privileged'. New Labour has adopted the concept as a key policy priority, this is no accident and the term itself was not settled on until months into government. This thought out policy target was reinforced by the establishment of the 'Social Exclusion Unit' (SEU) in 1997. The SEU was set up by the Prime Minister to help improve Government action to reduce social exclusion by producing 'joined-up solutions to joined-up problems'. The SEU website provides the following definition of social exclusion: '...a shorthand term for what can happen when people or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime environments, bad health and family breakdown' The above definition is only one in a myriad of explanations. ...read more.

Middle

(Griffith R & Stewart M in Griffith R 1998) In 'Against work: a utopian incursion into social policy Levitas argues that policy reflects this denial, she argues that 'a policy focus on specific excluded groups defined as those without the skills for, or access to, work diverts attention from the fact that there are many in work who by virtue of low pay or poor working conditions are in many respects outside the mainstream. This can be viewed in the SEU, which is concerned with social and moral order. Its targeting of smaller groups whose behaviour 'is deemed to diverge from prescribed norms' moves us away from the larger problems associated with inequality and redistribution of wealth. New Labour has worked hard to "...eradicate the image of the Labour party of the organised working class, by rejecting a class analysis of society altogether in favour of a pluralist model". (Levitas R) But do the underclass exist? Research carried around relationships to employment status and an 'underclass' seem to be more persuasive of a lack of such a relationship. For example, Gallie 1994 found evidence that the unemployed and long term unemployed experienced high levels of material deprivation. ...read more.

Conclusion

The trade off between basic income and minimum income as identified by Gorz is important in this instance. New Labour proved a minimum income. However poverty indicators unequivocally show that the situation is worsening: "The number of people living in poverty in Britain has grown from 5 million in 1979 to just under 14 million in 1993/4 according to the Governments definition of low income" (Walker 1997a) I accept that there are a growing number of groups and people within 'poorer/working class' society that do face more poverty and deprivation than the wider group. However the current policies in place deal with specific groups but fail to address inequalities that have been prevalent for a long time and are growing. New Labour have concentrated their efforts around the moral and employment related issues but have failed (in my opinion) to deal with institutional inequalities that are significant contributors to social exclusion. Much of this, again in my opinion has been carried out to keep the voters across the social strata in favour. The situation we are faced with is a society in which the rich get richer and the poor and further excluded from mainstream engagement. ...read more.

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