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135 Working Paper

Social Exclusion as Concept and Policy Template in the European Union

Jul 20, 2024 Mary Daly


Drawing upon a theoretical approach that emphasizes the importance of ideas and political processes in policyaking, the focus of this piece is on how a sociological concept – social exclusion – has been mobilized and manipulated by the EU. Tracing both the sociological and social policy 'lives' of the concept, the paper develops an explanation for the EU's turn to social exclusion that centers on both the properties of social exclusion as concept and the nature of the EU project. In essence it is argued that social exclusion "fits" with the current (stage of the) EU project and serves a set of crucial functions. Over the course of the last fifteen years, the EU has strategically crafted its particular approach to social exclusion which, among other things, has helped to both legitimize and advance EU engagement with social issues.