Explore the concepts of social exclusion, with reference to the notions of citizenship, equality, rights, and social justice. Explore it’s relevance to social work practice, and critically analyse the development of your own attitudes and values in addressing the issues for those who are socially excluded.
For the purposes of this paper I will explore concepts of social inclusion and exclusion in relation to race, racism. I will apply this to thinking and theories of citizenship, equality, rights and social justice. These concepts will further be applied to a children and families setting within social work practice.
I will conclude with an exploration of my own development and beliefs around my attitudes and values.
Social exclusion is a contested notion and varies in explanations as well as causes, Barry. M. (1998) describes it as “multiple depravation, resulting from a lack of personal, political or financial opportunities” (p.1), Burchardt. T (2000) states social exclusion refers to “a lack of opportunities and further emphasises the multi-layered and multidimensional nature of the problem” (Quoted in Davies. M. Ed. (2000) pp320-321).
These descriptions both centre on opportunities, and how the lack of opportunities, and the lack of participation in society, leads to exclusion.
What we must fully understand is the concept of ‘society’ these explanations are referring to and about, remembering that society has no borders or boundaries, (Walker. C ; Walker. A. (2002) Quoted in Adams. R. et al (2002)).
For this reason we must first understand what exactly, are people and groups being excluded from?
Within this paper ‘society’ will mean the majority society and the concepts and norms created by that society within England.
Here again we come to a debate about the ‘norms’ and acceptable behaviour which then in turn defines deviant behaviour (Thompson N. (2001)) the ‘norm’ in British society is a white, heterosexual , male (Lister. R 1998, Ch, 3 p 29. Monica. B. Eds (1998)).
Social exclusion is it self based on inequalities that are compounded on each other to exclude the person or group from society. It is argued by Andrï¿½ Betï¿½teille ‘inequality is a part of natural life and a biological phenomenon as he further states, “Natural inequality is based on differences in quality and qualities …. Human beings have defined them (qualities) in different societies in different historical epochs. (No date given Quoted in (Haralombas and Holborn (1995) pp25 – 26)
This belief of inequality has been used for the suppression of one race by the other through biological means incorrectly; this can be demonstrated by examining the African Caribbean Race in relation to the slave trade, where human beings were brought and as a commodity (Fryer. P (1993)). Today this would contravene your basic human rights, as set out by the United Nations Article 4.
Berthoud, R (2003), concluded “individuals with multiple disadvantages where more likely to be unemployed”, he highlighted disadvantages as being from a minority ethnic origin, having a disability, your age, the level of skill you have and your family structure. Further studies and investigations have highlighted the structural prejudice and racial barriers black people/ children face to full social inclusion. (Clemyn. S. (2000), Howarth. J (2002), Chand. A. (2000) Webb. E et al (2002))
Racism is a tool used by people for the exclusion of a group, or a person on the grounds of race, racism is imbedded within the history of the white European perspective and has been supported by the unequal power divide between black (having no or little power) and white (retaining majority of power)
Audrey Lorde (1984) defines racism as “the inherent belief of one races superiority over all others and thereby the right to dominance” Racism is a range of ideologies and social processes by which ascribed membership of assumed racial groups is taken to justify discrimination against other groups (Solomos 1993)
It implies acceptance that one supposed races, superiority over others justifies it greater power over physical and economic resources, and cultural values. (Dominelli L, 1988)
Racism is perpetuated through structures and belief systems that characterise black people as problematic which then apply negative characteristics to all black people. (Stereotyping) This in turn leads to oppression, discrimination, victimisation and the pigeonholing of black people (Chand, A (2000))
Similar thoughts and prejudged conceptions of one, races superiority over the other can still lead to social exclusion, if we examine Berthhold. R (2003) study whose findings conclude, ‘Caribbean’s, Africans, Indians and other minorities have an increased risk of unemployment, compared to white people’.
Taking this further and applying it to the beliefs of the Labour Party, who state that social exclusion is in direct relation to unemployment, (social Exclusion Unit 2001) then these ‘groupings’ of people are generally more susceptible to being socially excluded. (Berthould, R. (2003))
In 1997 as the Labour party came in to power it brought with it the issues of social exclusion and a formula to address the disadvantages attached to the socially excluded.
Tony Blair in his speeches spoke of a dawn of a ‘New Britain’, with investment and by the setting up of the social exclusion unit, focused on highlighting and implementing strategies in order to reduce and prevent social exclusion. The government set fourth a proposal to tackle the issue of social exclusion with the implementation of new initiatives such as the Sure Start project, and the Connexions service.
An explanation put forward by the social exclusion unit (2001) for social exclusion is
‘a shorthand term ……..when people or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, …… (Social Exclusion Unit (2001) p10)
This explanation also links ‘areas’ as well as individuals, but does not take in to consideration structural inequalities, such as institutional racism and institutional sexism. It is also not recognised or acknowledged as Burchardt, T (2000) states ‘although individuals suffer from social exclusion the causes are recognised as operating at all the P.C.S Levels (Thompson, N. 2000). She goes further to state that social exclusion is relative, ‘people may be participating in society in a greater or lesser extent. Burchardt, T (2000) pp 320 – 321).
We must look at social exclusion at a deeper level going further and recognising the impact of exclusion on the level of self esteem and, environmental factors, looking at social inclusion using the concept of race we can examine how Black people are disadvantaged through, stereotype and prejudice.
If we examine social exclusion looking at citizenship, we must firstly define citizenship in order to proceed forward and fully what a ‘good’ citizen should be and do.
In order to define citizenship we look towards T.H. Marshall’s famous essays on citizenship, within which he wrote citizenship is a form of attributed rights and responsibilities (Marshall, T. H. (1963) quoted in Turner. B (1990) pp191) he went on to say we are attributed with three forms of rights these are social, political and civil and along side these we have responsibilities to the state and our communities. Further only with the fulfilment of these responsibilities can we truly call our selves citizens (Ibid)
What Marshall failed to recognise in this early paper was, through discrimination and oppression, groups and individuals can have these rights limited or taken away from them.
As Ruth Lister (1998) states “men were able to fulfil their responsibilities as citizens in the public sphere, because there were women and slaves to attend to their needs in the private sphere” (Barry, M. (1998) Ed’s p28).
Citizenship is a “status bestowed on people who are full members of a community” (T. H. Marshall. Quoted in Lister. R. 1997, p14) to become this full member of a community we must at first fulfil our obligations (Roche. M. (1992)) and further only by adhering to these responsibilities can we achieve full citizenship status.
Work obligations or our duty to work as the Labour party coin the term, which prior to the Labour party’s election was emphasised by the Major government and the Conservative party.
The Major government introduced the Job Seekers Allowance in order to emphasise this obligation to work further in order to receive this benefit claimants were made to sign a mandatory job seekers agreement.
This agreement made it clear to unemployed people their obligation to work and the link between their unemployment benefit, (Employment Dept Group / DSS 1994, p10, Cited in Lister, R (1998) Ch 3 p 50)
This responsibility to work has been further emphasised by the introduction of the national minimum wage by the Labour party and further tax benefit reforms have encouraged people to move off benefits and in to paid employment (Social Exclusion unit (2001) p8). What this government has failed to notice and Ruth Lister (1997) emphasises is the value of unpaid work and the structural barriers in to paid work through institutional discrimination. Such as discrimination faced by disabled people as Mike Oliver states “in Britain disability spells the denial of social, political and civil citizenship rights” (Quoted in Lister, R (1996) p10) Lister adds to this by stating ” anti-discriminatory legislation must be seen as a platform for continuing the battle for citizenship not as a sign that citizenship has been achieved” (Ibid).
Within the social work profession there is a under representation of Black senior managers and directors and workers as a whole (Thompson, A (1997)).
Pennie Pennie Lambeth’s assistant social services director, gave a speech within which she stated
“There are only four Black assistant directors of social services that I know of, one of which is me” (cited in Thompson, A)
if we further look at the volume of directors of social services which are black, which is 2 compared to 198 of which are white we see a phenomenal power in-balance and under representation of black people within senior positions.
Few black workers in departments believe equal opportunities policies are being adhered to and are a reality in social services (Ibid), this is just one demonstration of the discrimination of ‘one’ profession. Black people are being denied the opportunity to fulfil their citizenship obligation and are further being socially excluded.
When we couple racism with sexism multiple oppressions develop (Thompson, (2001)) where the person is discriminated against because of their sex and race or colour of their skin. Josephine Kwahli a twice director of social services departments in boroughs of London demonstrates this point through stating
“After being assistant director twice, …. with a wealth of experience, I know if I were white I would either be director or have head hunters running after me ….” (Quoted in Thompson, A (1997) p19)
We can further demonstrate how institutional discrimination can repress the rights of individual by examining the over representation of black children in the care system which Chand, A (2000) argues is due to discriminatory policy and racist structural factors, which can result in the over investigation of black families and the lack of support to children in need. Racism has been identified as a factor in to the deaths of Tyra Henry and Sukina as well as the recent death of Victoria Climbï¿½.
For this reason when conducting an assessment of black and minority ethnic children we must take in to consideration the structural inequalities faced by individuals and groups (D.O.H (2000))
In adherence with the race relations act we must not offer an inferior service (s20) local authorities have a duty further under section 71 to eliminate unlawful discrimination and promote good race relations. Ignoring this would not only be illegal but immoral and in contravention of the GSCC codes of practice.
Many of the value and ethical dilemmas centre on the provision of service, which the structure of social services actively discriminates against people of minority ethnic origin.
As Social workers we hold the key to a number of services and labels that can either be applied in a positive manner, to attain equality and social justice, or in a negative manner attaining an unequal divide outcome between groups.
Within my placement I worked with a Somalian single mother, who understood and spoke very little English, translation services for her spoken language were not available. A family friend/ clan member offered to translate for her and us, this was suggested and preferred by the service user; she transferred this suggestion through the clan member. While conducting the initial assessment it became apparent this clan member was not translating in good faith, further there was an issue with the receipt of benefit and whether all was going to the service user.
As there was no way I could communicate without this person and further their where issues of oppression and may be theft, I could not continue to offer a service to this person, a clear violation of the Race Relations Act 1976 section 70. Further because of funding limitations, money was not available to bring in a translator from Nottingham.
This is clear evidence of structural Racism, and limitation of service resulting in unequal outcome, that is hidden behind the notion of limitation of services and funding. I was reminded about article 12 of the Human Rights act 1998, and the value requirement of the then C.C.E.T.S.W and now G.S.C.C. I believe the service should have been offered in order to attain equality of outcome and not opportunity.
In the study by Begum, N (1995) in to care management of three local authorities, revealed similar conclusion of inadequacies of service provision and translation services, at times relying on black professionals for translation services.
This practice of using Black professionals for translation is actually encouraged by Derby City, in order to reduce spending and overheads. This study further revealed, “Eligibility criteria for services often don’t take account of Black and Minority Ethnic people’s isolation or experience of racism. Some social workers felt it was important to try to be flexible around the eligibility criteria, in order to gain the trust and confidence of users”. (Begum. N (1995).
This practice opens up many ethical dilemmas for the workers and barriers or the service user, the study by Begum (1995) further revealed service users were reluctant to when translators were local people or members of the local community groups. In the personal experience I have described above, the translator oppressed the service user, but as a service we had no other option to use this person. (which was stopped once the oppression became apparent).
Structural legislation such as the Children’s Act 1989 and Equalities legislation state we must provide a service where there is an identified need, but this is not the case because of spending and budgetary constraints. I can’t see how this is equality of outcome based.
Equality is a difficult notion to understand Turner, B. (1986) defines it as The state of being equal; the same in size, degree, rank, level etc; evenly balanced having the same rights or status; uniform in application or effect.
There are four types of equality these are, Equality of opportunity – whereby we have equal access to social institutions and opportunities e.g. education, health care, employment opportunities. Attainment is on the basis of talent skill, intelligence and achievement
Formal equality – Based on the principal that everyone is equal. We have access to common civil rights.
Equality of out come, we achieve an end result of equality despite initial inequalities that people may experience.
Equality of condition, all people start from a level playing field; having the same access to resources and all positive influences necessary for fulfilling full potential.
For families of minority ethnic origin this notion of equality is a difficult belief to comprehend as discrimination and prejudice has become the accepted norm (Chahal, K & Julienne, L (1999)). As with traveller and Irish gypsy families, minority ethnic groups suffer because on the ignorance of workers who make judgements based of white Eurocentric ‘norms’.
In relation to formal equality we see by the findings of Sarah Cemlyn (2000) reveal, traveller families make less use of social services departments due to the resentment held from previous contacts –
“there’s a lot of Travelling woman…and…youngsters out there and they really need help – and they wouldn’t dare go near a social worker ’cause they fear “my child will be took off me” (Irish Traveller, Quoted in Cemlyn, S (2000) pp353-354)
Gypsies and Irish travellers are a recognised race under the Race Relations act, and thus are protected under this legislation from discrimination, and should not be offered an inferior service on unequal terms (S. 20).
This is although a principal of good practice it is not always the outcome for this group as Cemlyn. S (2000) states “travellers cultural differences can be pathologised” and “further the trauma of children being removed from families is heightened when culturally appropriate care is not available” (p354).
Further to this traveller children are denied equality of opportunity, because of the prejudice and racism within the education system, Margaret Thompson a charity assistant for the midlands states: –
“The very nature of the children’s life style actually reinforces their social exclusion…pre-school services are difficult to access ….schools will block applications in the hope that they (traveller children / families) will have moved on by the time it gets to the local education authority” (Quoted in Wolmuth, P. (2002) p 29)
This puts children of these families at a clear disadvantage through their life course and further perpetuates inequality, guidance by the Department of health guidance makes minimal reference to the travelling community (Department of Health (2000) p 47) further discussion on ethnic minorities does not include this minority ethnic group (Department of health (2000) Quoted in Cemlyn, S, (2002) p 359) this constitutes statuary neglect and puts this group at a enormous disadvantage, participation is limited or inhibited resulting in socially constructed ‘social exclusion’.
Although it is still unclear as to the extent of the social exclusion of this group from the first published report by the social exclusion unit (March 2001) as this omits Gypsies and travellers casting doubt on to the extent of the inequalities affecting them have been taken on the government agenda.
Social justice is a term used by the government now more than ever it described as “fairness….the principle subject of justice is the basic structure of society (Kant, Aristotle, Hegel, Hume. Quoted in Craig. G (2002))
This ‘fairness’ does not always exist or is down trodden by the powerful in the name of capitalism or economic growth. I agree with Dennison (1998) who argues standards and values can not be developed privately i.e. within one institution or in relation to one practice…similarly what we apply to others we must apply to ourselves (quoted in Craig, G. (2002) p 669)
In this country we have the fourth strongest economy in the world but still we have one of the highest rates of child poverty (Goldson, B, (2002)) in the past decade we have had growing national prosperity, but this has not reduced the incidence of child poverty. Income distribution is not equal, the HBAI, statistics reveal 25 % of the population are living below the mean average after housing costs. (Quoted in Goldson, B, (2002) p 684) The Labour party vowed to end child poverty by 2020, this would be through funding and new initiatives, in the areas where the instances of child poverty are very high (Social Exclusion Unit (2001))
As social workers the language we use can pose restrictions and unequal outcome for users, the way we ‘speak’ in our practice can have either empowering or disempowering effectiveness (Hawkins. L. et al (2001)).
Marshall Perspective on social justice involved all individuals enjoying the rights of citizenship, but as detailed in the earlier sections this is at times restricted through prejudice.
Social justice works on the premise all individuals are entitled to the availability of opportunities and life chances to develop whatever ones potential has to be (Gregory, J (2003) Att’s and Val’s Handout p 2). This entitlement can be restricted by social workers through making biased judgements, this can be due to the availability of information, Tversky and Kahneman (1974) argued individuals ‘asses the probability of an event occurring by which instances can be brought to mind, (Quoted in Messer & Jones (2001) p 87) bearing this in minds we can see how social workers make assumptions based on preconceived norms.
In the previous attitudes and values assignment I stated my understanding of racism had developed, and further I had realised what impact this had on my self. This year I believe I have developed understanding of the impact racism has on other minority groups, such as asylum seekers and refugees. This group is currently in the media spotlight and are portrayed as a ‘problem’.
What has become apparent to me is there is ‘racial highrarchy’ within society, and further between Black people; which currently holds this group at the bottom, this group has been victimised and denied resources by minority ethnic groups, which can be evidenced through the recent debate in the Derby Evening Telegraph on provision of doctors and medical aid.
Racism is apparent in so many arenas, within the attitude and values sessions we have discussed times and situations other members of the group have witnessed racism, this only highlights the issue of the structural power base, we have legislation and policies but still it continues and flourishes in public institutions such as residential children’s home. This is happening even when it is the duty under the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000 for all authorities to promote good race relations.
Racism, discrimination and victimisation is not a solely white on black issue but also a black on black issue remembering here it is still white males who hold structural power.
For me as a future social worker it is important to me to bare in mind, reflect and deal with any prejudice I may have against other racial groups, I must be held accountable for my actions, as should all professionals further only by adopting this practice can I provide a service based on egalitarian values.
Above all remember as a black person I am not the expert on black people (Webb et al (2002))
Sexism is an issue I felt last year I had come to terms with and evaluated my personal prejudices about; it became apparent while on placement I had not. Within supervision I was questioned about the assumptions I had about a service user, through this process it became apparent to my self I was still holding sexist stereotypical views and values. This for me was an occasion where it was safe as I had made no service allocation or assessment, although I recognise I would have been approaching with preconceived assumptions. As mentioned earlier accountability is imperative for future learning and development (Thompson, N (2002) p58)
Sexism is a value I know I hold and has been embedded deep within my psyche, through the process of primary and secondary socialisation, I was not born with sexist values but was socialised in to them.
Multiple oppressions is a new term that I am getting used to, this for me is a new theoretical knowledge base I am working from, for which I have enlisted the help of other students on the course. This has helped me to realise how the assumptions I make about social stature and need can be seen in a single fashion, sexism, racism, disabolism, etc I have to work towards a recondition how these are jointly compounded on each other to form ‘multiple oppression’
Through this recondition I will endeavour to rectify these assumptions and work in a method of empowerment and advocacy, the core fundamental to Anti-oppressive