Considerable importance is attached to social exclusion/inclusion in recent EU rural development programmes. At the national/regional operation of these programmes groups of people who are not participating are often identified as ‘socially excluded groups’. This article contends that rural development programmes are misinterpreting the social processes of participation and consequently labelling some groups as socially excluded when they are not. This is partly because of the interchangeable and confused use of the concepts social inclusion, social capital and civic engagement, and partly because of the presumption that to participate is the default position. Three groups identified as socially excluded groups in Northern Ireland are considered. It is argued that a more careful analysis of what social inclusion means, what civic engagement means, and why participation is presumed to be the norm, leads to a different conclusion about who is excluded. This has both theoretical and policy relevance for the much used concept of social inclusion.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Sociology and Political Science