Edited by Barbara Hobson, Jane Lewis and Birte Siim
4. Social exclusion and gender relations Mary Daly and Chiara Saraceno Exclusion has long been a central idea in feminist analysis. For feminists exclusion was a way of understanding women’s social situation and a basis for political mobilization. Feminists understood exclusion in a broad way, to refer not just to the absence, marginalization or subordination of women in diﬀerent social spheres but to women’s position vis-à-vis power relations in the public, private and symbolic domains. Thus, exclusion as part of a feminist critique served to radically expose the contradictions and tacit assumptions governing the polity and its self-representations (see also Chapters 2 and 5 on citizenship and contractualization, respectively). This understanding of exclusion never fully informed mainstream discourse that utilized the concept to deﬁne individuals and groups living on the margins of society due to some personal or biographical deﬁcit, for example, the mentally ill, the handicapped and so forth. In this latter understanding exclusion did not invoke an analysis of power relations and rather than questioning the core of the polity directed attention to its side-eﬀects (if at all). Recent years have seen a change. Exclusion, now with the word ‘social’ attached, has developed as a concept that speaks also to the polity. Social exclusion in this new version evokes those who are outside/diﬀerent, not partaking of mainstream resources and values because of processes within the polity itself. Such processes include restructuring in the labour market, diﬀusion of conditions of vulnerability and...
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