Chapter 19: The International and Comparative Analysis of Social Exclusion: European Perspectives
Graham Room Introduction The analysis of social exclusion raises three methodological questions. First, how is social exclusion to be conceptualized? As a lack of ﬁnancial resources, perhaps; or as poor housing, health and diet; or as detachment from the major institutions of society? Second, how is social exclusion to be measured? By reference to some ﬁnancial poverty line; or in terms of the length of time for which an individual or household endures poor social conditions; or in terms of the range of social networks on which such a household can call in times of adversity? What are then the implications for organizations – especially public bodies – charged with the regular collection of data on such matters? Third, by reference to what theoretical and policy purposes is the investigation and analysis of social exclusion to be conducted? As a tool for allocating public resources between more or less deserving households or localities? As a means of illuminating competing theories of social deprivation? These three types of question are not of course peculiar to the study of social exclusion: they arise across many other areas of applied social science. Nor are they peculiar to international and comparative research. Nevertheless, this international and comparative dimension does give them a particular twist. In conceptualizing social exclusion, how far is it necessary to relate the analysis to the speciﬁc social and cultural features of the different countries being compared? If social exclusion is measured by reference to particular ﬁnancial poverty lines, should these be...
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