Social exclusion is a term that has gained significant attention in recent years. It refers to the process of marginalizing a group of individuals based on their social identity, such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, and socioeconomic status.

The concept of social exclusion theory has been around for several decades and has been the subject of much research. In this article, we will explore who came up with social exclusion theory.

The Origin of Social Exclusion Theory

The term “social exclusion” was first used in France in the 1970s as part of a government initiative to tackle poverty and inequality. French sociologist Rene Lenoir is credited with coining the term “exclusion sociale” in his report on poverty commissioned by the French government in 1974. Lenoir argued that poverty was not just about lack of income but also about being excluded from participating in mainstream society.

Social Exclusion Theory

The concept of social exclusion theory gained traction in the 1990s when it was adopted by European policymakers and academics as a framework for understanding poverty and inequality. According to this theory, people are excluded from society when they are unable to participate fully in economic, social, and cultural life. This exclusion can lead to marginalization and deprivation.

Key Features of Social Exclusion Theory

Criticism of Social Exclusion Theory

While social exclusion theory has gained widespread acceptance, it has also faced criticism. Some scholars argue that the concept is too broad and lacks specificity.

They suggest that it is difficult to measure social exclusion and that the theory does not offer practical solutions to address the issue. Others argue that the concept of social exclusion individualizes the problem of poverty and inequality, ignoring structural factors such as economic policies and power relations.


In conclusion, social exclusion theory originated in France in the 1970s with Rene Lenoir’s report on poverty. It gained popularity in Europe in the 1990s as a framework for understanding poverty and inequality.

The theory emphasizes the multidimensional nature of social exclusion, recognizing that people can be excluded from multiple aspects of society. While it has faced criticism, it remains an important concept for understanding and addressing issues of poverty and inequality.