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Strategies for social inclusion: Promoting social cohesion or social justice?

Social exclusion is more multidimensional than poverty and may encompass the various ways people are denied full participation and full citizenship. This orientation suggests a dual focus on processes and outcomes. If "social exclusion" is used uncritically, it can focus only on participation without due attention to the unequal distribution of resources suggested by the term poverty. Lister argues that policies based on social exclusion will be very different depending on whether social cohesion or social justice is the desired outcome. Social justice requires a wealth redistribution focus and access to social and citizenship rights. When social cohesion is the desired outcome the policies may become moralistic using language like "underclass" and blaming people for dependency. As well, some policy outcomes have focused too much attention on paid work. This has been the case in the UK where a getting a job is equated with social inclusion. Other European countries have tackled social exclusion with generous social insurance benefits. Social inclusion must answer the claims of diversity. Social policy and economic policy must be integrated. Education will play a key role and employment strategies must recognize barriers to employment including accessible workplaces for people with disabilities and the availability of childcare. Means tests and targeting promote exclusion while extensive social insurance systems promote inclusion. Reconciling social justice and social cohesion requires a focus on redistribution and political recognition and the nurturance of voice from diverse groups.