Social exclusion is a phenomenon that has been studied extensively in social science. The theory of social exclusion describes the process by which individuals or groups are systematically excluded from participating fully in society.

But who created social exclusion theory? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Social Exclusion Theory?

Social exclusion theory is an attempt to understand how certain groups of people become marginalized or excluded from mainstream society. It is a multidisciplinary concept that draws on sociology, psychology, economics, and political science.

At its core, social exclusion theory argues that individuals and groups are excluded from society due to various socioeconomic factors such as poverty, unemployment, discrimination, and lack of access to education and healthcare.

The Origins of Social Exclusion Theory

The term “social exclusion” was first used by French sociologist Rene Lenoir in the 1970s. Lenoir argued that certain groups in French society were being excluded from full participation in mainstream society due to economic and social factors.

However, it was not until the 1990s that the concept of social exclusion gained wider recognition. In 1995, the European Union adopted the concept as a framework for understanding poverty and inequality within member states.

Notable Contributors to Social Exclusion Theory

While Rene Lenoir may have coined the term “social exclusion,” several other scholars have contributed significantly to its development and application.

Amartya Sen: Sen is an Indian economist who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998 for his work on welfare economics. He has also made significant contributions to social exclusion theory by arguing that poverty should be seen as a form of social exclusion rather than simply a lack of income.

Beverly Skeggs: Skeggs is a British sociologist who has written extensively on class, gender, and inequality. Her work on social exclusion has emphasized the importance of understanding how social and cultural factors contribute to exclusion.

Robert Putnam: Putnam is an American political scientist who is best known for his book “Bowling Alone,” which examines the decline of social capital in the United States. He has also written about social exclusion and argues that it is a result of both economic and cultural factors.


Social exclusion theory is an important framework for understanding poverty, inequality, and marginalization in society. While Rene Lenoir may have coined the term, several other scholars have contributed significantly to its development and application.

By acknowledging the factors that contribute to social exclusion, we can work towards building more inclusive societies where everyone has the opportunity to fully participate and thrive.