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Literature Review

In the 1960s, social exclusion became a subject of discussion in France, but after the economic crisis in 1980, the concept was introduced in the UK. After it had become the biggest item in the EU agenda, attention was closely then introduced to the specification and definition of the concept (Hills 2002). Policies on the eradication and combating social exclusion were then evaluated. For this to happen, necessary details on what social exclusion is, what factors influence it, and what indicators are to be used to identify its existence, were identified (Sterkenburg 2011). There has been a lack of adequate characterization of social exclusion. For instance in the UK, social exclusion is described as a short term that occurs when people or areas from the union are linked with problems such as low incomes, unemployment, poor housing, family breakdown, low incomes, and poor health (Sterkenburg 2011).

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Social exclusion is conceived as a concept that is multidimensional. It is viewed as a combination of deprivation of material, inadequate access to social rights, insufficiency of normative integration and lack of social participation (Coalter 2007). Although social exclusion has been debated for long, policy makers have not been able to give out the acceptable scientific conceptualization. Social exclusion can be described further as deprivation of such things as employment wealth, education, income, political representation, and emotional and social support (Coalter 2007). As from the late 1990s, social exclusion has become a common thing in the governments’ agenda. The term originated in the 1980s when the rate of unemployment was rising in most of the countries. The particular groups that were at risk from social exclusion were old people, young people, people from minority ethnic groups, the homeless, the disabled, and those from low income families. Although it might be considered as a tool for development of social connectivity, it cannot be used as a universal remedy for social problems.

The government of the UK has shown many developments in the issue of social exclusion. It has designed a unit, Social Exclusion Unit, in the office of the deputy prime minister, which describes social exclusion as being a multidimensional and complex consequence, and causes creating long-lasting and deep problems for the economy for the individual families, and for the whole society (Coalter 2007). It is considered that it can pass from one generation to the next, which means that the lives of the children are strongly dependent by their parent’s circumstances: the place where they live as well as their income. This description has been accepted by most of the government departments that deal with policy making in these areas.

In 1999, Policy Action Team (PAT) expressed concern on the assertion that sport, which is a recreational and cultural activity, can contribute to the renewal of the neighborhoods as well as make a real difference to employment, crime, health, and education in the communities that are deprived (Hills 2002). However, the process of clear description on how social exclusion through sport brings out these changes was not clearly specified. In addition, the benefits of the sport are overlooked by some providers of sport and art programs and facilities. Therefore, sport has been drawn in as an important tool in tackling social exclusion in the most general way.

The lack of proper understanding as well as shared information of the term ‘social exclusion’ or its background, in various extents of deprivation in issues of production, social engagement, consumption, and political activity suggests that policies in this area are far from unchallenged (Hills 2002). It is not clear, for instance, whether sport exclusion is itself a form of exclusion or is universally considered an indicator of social exclusion. The policy of the government of the UK addresses issues relating to social exclusion in a ‘joined up’ working (Coalter 2007). These include funding and cooperation of quasi-autonomous bodies and voluntary organizations such as the New Opportunities Fund, Sport England, and the Football Foundation. Policies in many countries have been developed to address both causes and effects of social exclusion.

Hence, social exclusion can be viewed as a loose combination of desperate signs, which are correlated to lack of or possession of various forms of capital (Jarvie 2006). This makes sport be analyzed as a cultural field in which the various practices done occupy positions. These positions are considered symbolic in relation to power in the other fields. Thus, cultural capital can be acquired by individuals in the sporting field. For instance, in soccer policy, initiatives create capital that develops values elsewhere or affects some changes in individuals.


Social exclusion within sport related degrees is normally taught or considered as a part of sport sociology. These programs focus on the social construction or development of exclusion in sport. Recent studies (Sterkenburg 2011) on lottery funding and voluntary organizations have shaded some light on this area. The rationale of this research is to explore the sport-related social inclusion schemes and describe how social exclusion is analyzed and identified. Then see how the interaction between the participants generates values and capital that develops social mobility.


The UK government has designed several strategies and programs to eradicate social inclusion in all areas. In this paper, we shall analyze social exclusion in sport. The objective of this study is:

  • to distinguish the actual traits that describe the actual state of social exclusion in sport;
  • to show and describe the risk factors that lead to the increment or the development of the chances of social exclusion;
  • to describe different levels of social exclusion in sport;
  • to identify the roles that the different sport activities play in relation to social exclusion.

Social exclusion in sport activities has been underlined by many political leaders as a means of eradicating social exclusion. Though there are no clear and direct strategies on how it helps wipe out social exclusion, with its systematic investment, government commitment and financial support, the sport acts as a route to social inclusion. There is no clear formula for tackling social exclusion (Coakley 2007). Most of the areas related to sport are challenging, and the government is required to streamline, take risks, and reduce red tape among the funding agencies. This will act as guidance to a long-term investment and eradication of exclusion. From the National Survey conducted in 1998 on volunteering, the sport is considered to account for 26% of all volunteering (Coakley 2007). This shows that sporting activities have got much impact on individuals.

The Sport England and Football Foundation have been distributing grant projects that are ambitious on community-based schemes. This has made the term social exclusion, to be considered to be linked with notions of class. Thus, sport linkage to class leads to the distribution of function and meaning attributed to different sporting activities. Social exclusion entails comprehensive concepts that have equal rights and fairness at their core, and hence the state welfare responsible for sporting activities is considered a vital fabric to the society of the UK. This is what has made the UK government be committed in the building of cohesive, inclusive and prosperous society with social justice and fairness at its core (Foldesi 2010).

Although sport has been viewed widely as a constructive activity within the society, sociologists argue that it may contribute to social exclusion. Initially, sport was developed as a gendered activity leading to barring of females, but in recent years, sport has led to the development of groups. The intersections of these groups have led to the exclusion of one group from the other (Li & Pickles 2003). From the various disciplines of sport, social exclusion is considered as part of sociology of sport. Sport participation itself does not lead directly to the desired outcomes and impacts. Indeed, it can be a tool for enhancing integration, but it may also bring in ethnic inequalities and differences. Thus, sport-based interventions may by no means address such social issues as poverty, deprivation and racism (Payne 2006).


Sport has been considered by most of the countries as a way of combating social exclusion. Sport development contributes much to the government by bringing together factors that contribute alleviation of social deprivation, poor levels of education, and poor health. Sport brings in social inclusion through increased diversity and greater international success through higher participation (Foldesi 2010). Sport, which is one of the most social subsystems that are open, is regarded as a social inclusion tool for minorities and marginalized groups. Through sport, such skills as team spirit, social inclusion and mutual respect are developed (Bryant 2001). These skills form the basis of society development, and if they can be delivered and promoted properly, then sport can constitute intercultural dialogue by bringing different nationalities and cultures together.

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