Social Exclusion and Young People—Perspective of Social Work Aspects


Social exclusion now threatens millions of young people in the form of multi-dimensional existence due to the exponential development of technologies, industrialization, and informatization. Furthermore, in today’s society, socially excluded young people are more likely to encounter further social and emotional marginalization, material deprivation, and health problems, all of which increase their risk of exclusion. Social work profession through practice defending human rights, enhances human well-being and social justice to promote social change. These factors are aligned to the inclusiveness of the social fabric. How social workers operate on multiple societal levels, from working with individuals to improve the well-being of excluded young people, to focusing on integration efforts that support entire communities, has long been a hot topic in social work. Therefore, this paper focuses on the issue of social exclusion in current time and young people aged 18 to 29. It explores with statistics and charts to demonstrate that relativeness between excluded young people with levels of education, why modern individualism established a new form of social relations that became central to modern social exclusion, the perspective of the social work profession, why the development of modernization has led to some young people are excluded; what are the most evident and hidden risks, and how these risks are distributed among excluded groups.

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Dai, H. (2022) Social Exclusion and Young People—Perspective of Social Work Aspects. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 10, 221-232. doi: 10.4236/jss.2022.104016.

1. Introduction

Social exclusion is a social phenomenon that exists in the past and present, even in the future. It affects millions of people around the world struggling to survive in awfully difficult daily life, working conditions and emotionally torment.

Social change is a phenomenon that has existed since ancient times. Any society is a modern society in relation to the society of the past. Throughout history, exclusion has taken the forms that have existed in the context of social life in an evolving way, both in terms of characteristics and attitudes towards them. In the context of modernization, exclusion has appeared in different forms in countries around the world, from small to large-scale spread. Indigenous local communities, social level or even national level, affect everyone. Multiple reasons can cause someone to be marginalized, including sexual orientation, gender, geography, ethnicity, religion, displacement, conflict, and disability. Poverty is both a consequence and a cause of marginalization. On the basis of age, gender, sexuality, language, disability, and other factors, social discrimination and marginalization can affect a wide spectrum of people. Economic marginalization can make it difficult for people to get equitable access to essential services, income possibilities, and employment chances.

Except for the obvious urban segregation, the stratification, stigmatization, culpability, and consumerism-centered production and consumption mechanisms faced by socially disadvantaged groups exacerbate the process of exclusion in both tangible and intangible ways. However, socially excluded young people are more likely to face extra social and emotional marginalization, material hardship, and health difficulties, all of which increase their risk of exclusion. For young people, the phenomena of modern social exclusion have taken on at least four dimensions: relational, economic, institutional, and cultural exclusion. The labor market distinguishes between education, age, and gender (institutional exclusion). There is difference in between urban and rural social welfare system (education, medical care and employment). Besides, many young people, in their search for a sense of belonging, blindly follow the current “fashion trend” influenced by consumerism and hedonism. Those who do not follow the trend, on the other hand, have become social “aphasia patients” (interpersonal exclusion).

2. Social Exclusion: The General Concept

Society is in an information-intensive epoch at the beginning of the twenty-first century, highlighted by a persistent spirit of lifelong learning and a high degree of skill specialization. The fast-evolving high-tech civilization (technology) provides many new opportunities for the younger generation, but it also poses new obstacles. Along with its emphasis on contextualization, relativism, and pluralism, modern society opposes foundationalism and certainty. While people advocate the uniqueness between individuals, the differences between individuals are also more significant, thus the social situation is becoming more and more complex. The prevailing features of modern lifestyles are increasing personalization, diversity and involution. It appears that more and more young people are finding it difficult to fit into such a mainstream culture without feeling marginalized and disregarded.

Many various social and cultural variables, as well as political and economic systems, influence today’s societies. The influence of a changing labor market has considerably enhanced the value of education in people’s lives, resulting in societal transformation. The advancement of information and communication technology has given today’s youth new options, but it has also increased the complexity and social instability of people’s everyday lives. Numerous country-specific studies have detected and documented structural shifts in the structure of labor markets. Employment prospects in conventional industries have decreased dramatically in many nations in recent years, while employment opportunities in the automation technology and human service sectors have expanded.

The labor market has divided into various separate divisions in several nations. On one side, there is a high-paying labor market for educated individuals, a low-paying labor market for educated people, a market for relatively low-level educated people and low-paying employment, and people neither in employment nor in education and training. Many people may be forced to migrate to other occupational categories and learn new skills as a result of the increasing deployment of automation. Because the shift to new positions is often slow, unemployment may rise, stalling pay growth. A huge percentage of young people are at danger of falling into poverty.

There is a direct link between educational achievement and long-term employment or unemployment. The nature of young people’s life is changing, in addition to schooling and the work market. This shift is linked to a shift in the character of society, as well as current young people’s living circumstances, styles, and social roles. There are several indications that changes in contemporary society’s structure have resulted in both new and lost or fewer chances for young people. Of course, it may or may not be unavoidable, but it frequently results in expanding wealth disparities, polarized living circumstances, and poor health.

Social isolation is a multi-faceted and difficult process. It entails a lack of or denial of resources, rights, products, and services, as well as the inability to engage in the usual interactions and activities that the majority of individuals in a society may engage in, whether in the economic, social, cultural, or political arenas. It has an impact on people’s quality of life as well as society’s equity and cohesiveness (Levitas, 2002). When people or places face a number of interconnected issues, such as unemployment, weak skills, low wages, bad housing, high crime, poor health, and family disintegration, social exclusion can occur.

In terms of an individual’s life course, it’s more logical to think of social exclusion as a process rather than as a condition of affairs—a negative cycle in one’s life (Byrne, 2005). There is ample evidence showing that social exclusion often intertwines with trans-generational processes (Hobcraft, 2002: p. 65).

Although the feature of social isolation being passed down through generations has been discovered, it is critical to emphasize—particularly from an educational standpoint—that social isolation is not a personality trait. It is linked to a person’s life path as a process, but it is not about an individual attribute; rather, it is about the interaction between an individual and society. It’s a “more-or-less” phenomenon, not an “either-or” one (Silver & Miller, 2003).

3. Social Exclusion: A Multidimensional Phenomenon

The terms “social deprivation” and “social exclusion” refer to the incapacity of individuals to fully engage in the life of their community or society. Material and social deprivation rates between the ages of 16 - 29 in 2014-2020 are depicted in the graph (Figure 1) in European Union (EU). In average, the rate of reporting a condition of material and social deprivation in the age group of 16 - 29 years old young people is trend to decline obviously. Despite the fact that this data only relates to nationals of the 27 EU member states who have a legal residency permit, qualitative research has indicated that highlighting the existence of certain forms of material deprivation and social marginalization inside the EU may actually difficult to mitigate the situation.

Social exclusion describes a combination of problems (Levitas, 2002). Exclusion is a multi-dimensional process characterized by uneven power connections that interact across four basic dimensions—economic, political, social, and cultural—and at several levels, including individual, home, group, community, country, and global. It leads to a cycle of inclusion and exclusion marked by unequal access to resources, competencies, and rights, resulting in health disparities (Popay et al., 2008). Material and relational resources, participation, and quality of life are three major factors that can contribute to people’s lives being harmed, as characterized by social exclusion as a multidimensional and complex process. The concept of social exclusion includes not only the traditional dimension of poverty, but also the multidimensional aspects of material and non-material deprivation, their interrelationships, and the dynamics of social, economic, and political marginalization that result (EACEA, 2013).

Figure 1. Percentage of respondents between age (16 - 29 years) reporting a condition of material and social deprivation in (2014-2019) EU. Source: Based on Eurostat, 2022a (online data code: ilc_mdsd07). Notes: e = estimated. National: European Union-27 countries (from 2020).

The inability to pay for at least five of the following things is defined as the material deprivation rate: yearly vacation of one week away from home; prevent falling behind on payments (mortgage, rent, utility bills); every other day, afford a meat, chicken, fish, or vegetarian comparable dinner; keep their house warm enough; replacing worn-out furnishings; replacing worn-out clothing with new ones; have two pairs of correctly fitted shoes; spend a little amount of money on himself/herself each week (“pocket money”); participate in regular leisure activities; get together with friends/family at least once a month for a drink/meal; have access to the internet.

In all EU Member States, those with a low level of education (lower secondary or less) have a higher rate of material and social deprivation. In the 16 - 29 age group (Figure 2), approximately 1 in 2 people (57%) with a low education level were reported to be in a situation of material and social deprivation, while this pie chart (Figure 2) narrows with young people in the upper secondary, post-secondary but non-tertiary level accounting for approximately 30 percent. The most noticeable in this graph (Figure 2) is that young people with higher levels of education are less likely to suffer from material and social deprivation.

Young individuals between the ages of 16 and 29 encounter several transitional challenges, such as adjusting to maturity and then fully engaging in real-world social situations.

This graph (Figure 3) depicts the employment rates of young individuals (aged 16 - 34) who have attended either upper secondary (in general/vocational) or tertiary levels of education (as defined by the international standard categorization of education (ISCED) in the European Union (EU). It explores the situation of the transition from schooling to employment and the graduates’ access to the labor market. This graph (Figure 3) demonstrates that a young person with a higher education level would have a better chance in the work market in each

Figure 2. Material and social deprivation rates between age (16 - 29 years) by educational attainment level in (2014-2020) EU. Source: Author’s calculate based on Eurostat, 2022b (online data code: ilc_mdsd03). Notes: e = estimated. National: European Union-27 countries (from 2020).

Figure 3. Employment rates of young people (aged 18 - 34) not in education and training, by educational attainment level in (2014-1020) EU. Source: Based on Eurostat, 2022c (online data code: edat_lfse_24). Notes: b = break in time series. National: European Union-27 countries (from 2020).

given year. However, an employee’s educational level has a significant impact on their employability. In the market, the average gap between low and high education employment rates is comparable. By connecting (Figure 1), (Figure 2), and (Figure 3), we can observe that the number of high education employees is gradually increasing till 2019. In 2020, there will be a minor decrease (perhaps because to the Covid-19 pandemic issue), but when we examine this graph (Figure 3), we can see that the trends of increasing high education young people in the market are the most popular all the time. This scenario is expected to intensify with time, according to the assumption. Turning to (Figure 2), higher education young people were less likely to suffer material and social deprivation. In this case, we can draw the conclusion that the rates of young people suffering from material deprivation have been steadily declining since 2014, owing to an increase in the number of young people with a high level of education. The relationship between (Figure 2) and (Figure 3) can explain (Figure 1), indicating that increasing education levels can lower the number of young people in material and social disadvantage.

However, a percentage of young individuals fail to reach such transitions (maturing and then properly participating in the real world) and end up unemployed, uneducated, or untrained in this sector. Consider the young people in EU’s 27 member states.

Since 2010, the graph demonstrates that the NEET rates (Figure 4) of 20 - 24-year-old have been lower than those of 25 - 29-year-old, and that this condition has remained unchanged, with the NEET rate of 25 - 29-year-old being greater than that of 20 - 24-year-old by roughly 2% to 3% per year. In 2013, the highest percentage of NEET was 21.6 percent, implying that one out of every five young people in the EU is NEET. However, the rate has been declining in both age groups since 2013 and will continue to do that until 2019. In 2020, both young groups may be affected by the inevitable circumstance, with an increase of roughly 1% (Such like Covid-19 pandemic).

Figure 4. Young people neither in employment nor in education and training (NEET) (ages 20 - 24 & 25 - 29) in 2010-2020 EU. Source: Based on Eurostat, 2022d (online data code: EDAT_LFSE_20). Note: National: European Union-27 countries (from 2020).

NEETS: In terms of future consequences, failure to participate in work, education, or training can result in a variety of short and long-term negative effects, including unemployment, poor health, early parenthood, alcohol and drug abuse, and criminal behavior (Coles et al., 2002). NEET can have a significant cost to society in addition to the impact on young people themselves. Welfare expenditures and lost financial contributions to the economy and public finances are examples of these costs (Godfrey et al., 2002). NEETs are a worldwide societal issue. The population of higher education is growing as a result of the popularization of higher education in most nations. They are hesitant to participate in lower-paying employment due to their high-education attitude. Many young people feel that hard labor is something they don’t want to perform and that they are looking for a career that pays well and requires less effort.

Why became NEETS:

• For dream: They have ideas for their own actual employment, and they must accomplish those standards in order to fulfill their demands, and they will have to change occupations frequently.

• Lack of self-assurance: Because of a failed work experience, they will be frustrated in future jobs, their confidence will be harmed, and they will not dare to work again.

• Manipulated: Their family has expected them to achieve well since they were a child, and they study carefully to meet those expectations rather than their own. Because of this, they believe that their family will support them even if they do not have a job.

• Despite their lack of education, they have great expectations. Due to scholastic underachievement, low-skilled persons are more likely to have poor job chances in the future.

• Having parents who have been unemployed or divorced has also been shown to enhance the chance of a child becoming a NEET.

Being NEETS:

• Being a NEET is, first and foremost, a loss of potential for young people.

• NEETs’ journey to maturity is hampered by persistent unemployment. In terms of involvement and future earnings, their transfer to the labor market becomes tough.

• NEETs are trapped in a vicious spiral because of their previous jobless history.

• As NEETs get less job experience, they are more likely to earn less and

• Fall into poverty in the future.

• NEETS face stigma, discrimination, stereotypes, marginalization, and social exclusion.


• NEET status over an extended period of time can have long-term effects, including a severe impact on future work prospects and incomes, as well as physical and mental health.

• NEETS, in addition to not being able to live on their own, are unable to support their families since they are unemployed, putting a strain on the family and hastening the family economy’s crisis.

• Drug and substance abuse, criminality, and social marginalization are all factors that contribute to social exclusion. The negative implications may extend beyond NEETs themselves, affecting their families and society as a whole.

• NEETs frequently experience psychological discomfort, such as feelings of loneliness, helplessness, powerless, restlessness, anxiety, and sadness.

• Furthermore, in addition to engaging in illegal activities, NEETs are more likely to engage in risky behavior in general, such as alcohol and drug misuse and criminal activity sabotage the social order.

As previously said, social exclusion takes several forms. Figures on the prevalence of young people encountering various types of dangers that contribute to social exclusion are shown in (Figures 1-4). According to the data, young people with a poor level of education are at a higher risk of being excluded or becoming NEET.

4. Poverty and Exclusion

Meanings and ramifications for society as a whole; for the comparatively advantaged as well as the “poor”. Many attempts have been made to introduce synonyms or alternatives since it is a contentious notion. In recent years, the most prominent of these has been “social exclusion” (Hills, Grand, & Piachaud, 2002). Which causes poverty or disadvantage But, just as readily as the concept of poverty, it may also be used to shift attention away from structural impacts and instead focus on the alleged flaws of individuals who are disadvantaged, painting them as an aberration or an excluded “underclass” (Levitas, 2002).

Around one out of every ten working young adults in EU is at danger of falling into poverty, suggesting that they have insufficient money to cover their daily expenses/low income. During those years, the rates fluctuated, but the lowest rate was not less than 8%. Poverty encompasses both a lack of financial and material resources as well as a lack of spiritual culture, and the duality of poverty is mirrored in a holistic understanding of poverty on both material and spiritual levels. It’s a relative absence, whether it’s a scarcity of money and material goods or a spiritual culture. Scarcity indicators should vary by place and social and historical time, and they cannot be generalized.

Poverty-objectively: The living conditions of individuals whose money, material delight, or spiritual and cultural enjoyment are much below the average level in a given place and during a certain social and historical time are referred to as objective poverty. Poverty is typically used as a measure of economic well-being in research on poverty and inequality, with families classified as poor if their income falls below a particular percentage of the mean or median family income (Townsend, 1993). Poverty is therefore a socially created idea that has been continually found and renewed as a sort of disadvantage involving not just tangible deprivations, but also symbolic connotations and moral consequences (Lister, 2004). There is data from Eurostat SILC survey which investigated that employed young people in ages 16 - 29 at risk of poverty in 2010-2019 (Figure 5).


A scarcity of necessities regarded essential by the general public—Social exclusion is exacerbated by subjective poverty, which is fueled by today’s prevalent individualism and materialism. Individualistic social cultures think that a greater degree of truth emerges through the clash of ideas and viewpoints. It is critical to express genuine feelings. Expressing diverse points of view meets the desire to express oneself and achieve the need for a distinct personality that differentiates

Figure 5. In-work at-risk-of-poverty (ages 16 - 29) in 2010-2019 EU. Source: Author’s calculate based on Eurostat, 2022e (EU-SILC survey) (online data code: ilc_iw01). Notes: e = estimated. National: European Union-28 countries (from 2023-2020). For the EU nations that participated in the survey, a weighted EU average was calculated.

oneself from others for those with individualistic ideals. Individualism, on the other hand, yearns for peace and is not excluded. Individualists will always step up to express their ideas and displeasure when the public’s beliefs and cognitions run opposite to individualism, and the public will be displeased with some individualists. Exclusion has becoming more prevalent. Young people nowadays value individuality and independence. Simultaneously, these so-called liberties, liberation, and self-determination are not incorporated into the public’s “morality,” raising the possibility of exclusion. Exclusion, according to growing evidence, increases people’s urge to develop new social ties. People who have been socially excluded are cautiously eager to work and play with others, and they tend to see new forms of social interaction as good and hopeful (Maner et al., 2007).

Consumers utilize the symbolic character of purchasing to express information about themselves to others, according to decades of studies (Ball & Tasaki, 1992). People attempt to boost their social attractiveness in a variety of ways in order to seem distinct. Which diverse objectives will be assimilated when the level of inclusion reaches a specific level. Divergence increases social distance, increasing the risk of exclusion in the future, whereas resemblance and conformity encourage acceptance while lowering the risk of rejection and ostracism (Brewer, 1991). When it comes to spending, socially alienated people may make good selections. They may be prepared to pay charges only if they truly require or can afford it. Many young people who are socially excluded, on the other hand, desire to escape the label of exclusion and strengthen their sense of social identity, and they will become entangled in the consumerism maelstrom. They may purchase some unneeded “necessities” to demonstrate their membership in the “great army”, while neglecting their own needs and financial constraints. By contrast, individualists are more likely to be alienated from society due to their ego, and their prospects of being assimilated by consumerism are nearly non-existent.

5. Conclusion

According to the scope of the EU data study, a large section of the youth population is marginalized and disadvantaged, putting their long-term prospects at risk. When considering the multi-dimensions of social exclusion, the main determinants are rooted in the diversification and modernization of social life. For instance, the threat of obstacles to full employment as a result of the popularization of higher education; discriminatory behaviors and attitudes (individualism and consumerism); and poverty. Excluded young people are more likely to be stigmatized, discriminated against, and stereotyped. Using statistics from the European Union as an example, there are a big number of young people suffering from social exclusion in various nations throughout the world. Their spirituality, family, and society are all putting pressure on them. Of obviously, this data cannot be used as a benchmark for other nations outside of the EU, but the problem of social exclusion of young people is well-known and well-documented. People of various ages and genders live in communities and strive to give communal life purpose. Racism, fanaticism, and other forms of oppression, on the other hand, persist. This exclusion has never vanished from the face of the world, but it has changed throughout time as a result of modernization.

Practitioners in social work who are committed to human rights and equality work to promote and support individuals, groups, and communities who are affected by social injustice. Societal work supports social transformation, problem-solving in human connections, and people’s empowerment and liberty in order to improve their well-being. As a result, the social worker’s position and responsibilities are complicated. Empowerment, counseling, advocacy, cooperation, needs assessment, care management, and social control are all part of the job (Scourfield, Holland, & Young, 2008). Social workers should have a responsibility to strive for an inclusive society by tackling situations that promote social exclusion, oppression, and/or suffering as part of their job. Due to the scope of the position and the diversity of its resources, social work has the potential to improve an individual’s life. Local government social services, for example, work to protect vulnerable or at-risk individuals, promote social inclusion, and help people live independently when feasible (Williams, 2007). Social work is unique in that it pays close attention to the individuals themselves and uses informal processes to understand their clients’ dilemmas (Jordan, 1987). His distinctive practice approach presents numerous opportunities for social workers to address discrimination and exclusion, and ultimately promote equality and the inclusion of individuals and groups in society (Pierson, 2002).

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.


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