Given the contested nature of the term, this paper clarifies the concept of social exclusion first before detailing the concept of transport-related social exclusion. The term social exclusion was introduced into the European policy domain during the 1990s [25
]. A detailed account of the evolution of the term in the European policy context can be found in [26
]. In Britain, it entered into the government’s policy process with the setting up of the interdepartmental Social Exclusion Unit (SEU) in 1997 [27
]. A similar concept was introduced in the USA with the name ‘environmental justice’ through an official order of the then President Clinton in 1994 [19
]. The assumption is therefore to expect an agreed understanding of the term exists given decades of common usage, though this is not the case [8
]. As Atkinson [31
] (p. 1039) indicated, “there are as many theories of social exclusion as there are writers on the subject, for anyone, or any group, that adopted a lifestyle at odds with mainstream society was deemed to be excluded.”
Despite varying theoretical developments, researchers agree that the term originated in the French literature in the 1970s [19
], whereas Cebollada [32
] noted the origin of this term dates back to 1965. At that time, the term was used to refer to individuals who “slipped” through the social insurance system; the socially excluded were those who were administratively excluded by the state [27
]. Three decades later when the term gained in significance in the development of policy, Cass et al. [29
] investigated the perceptions held by local authorities in the UK towards social exclusion and found somewhat inconsistent views; some authorities referred the term to specific groups (e.g., the poor), others used it to refer certain deprived areas. In the literature, the terms poverty, deprivation, and social exclusion have also often been used interchangeably [33
Mernagh and Commins [36
] highlighted the problems associated with misunderstanding new concepts like social exclusion because of its significant level of public usage and its importance to the development of policy in practice. It is important, therefore, at the outset to make a distinction between social exclusion and other related concepts. The term revisited as a practical alternative to the notion of old poverty at the European level because of the political reservation to use the term poverty [26
]. Latter on a distinction has been made and poverty is generally understood as the lack of material resources such as income [8
]. Although Brennan et al. [28
] mentioned that social exclusion has largely been assumed to refer to poverty; Atkinson and Hills [37
] have shown that people may be socially excluded without being poor. Therefore, social exclusion is not just a fashionable way of talking about poverty or even about simply a subset of the poor, but a broader concept [26
]. Deprivation, in contrast, is a more diffuse concept related to the quality of life [35
]. Townsend [38
] (p. 125) defined deprivation as “a state of observable and demonstrable disadvantage relative to the local community or the wider society or nation to which an individual, family or group belongs”.
Deprivation, therefore, refers to a lack of particular attributes, including but not limited to income, that contribute to some degree of suffering or relative disadvantage [33
]. Traditionally, the measures of deprivation have attempted to identify and assess these attributes [39
]. These are often referred to as different dimensions (or domains) of deprivation such as economic, social, political, personal, living space, mobility impairment, and geographical isolation [8
Social exclusion, in contrast, refers to the process whereby an individual becomes deprived [35
]. As a result, poverty and deprivation have been conceptualised as the outcomes whilst social exclusion is seen to be a process [26
]. Thus, social exclusion embraces a view of poverty and concerned with multiple aspects of deprivation [46
]. This means that the excluded are the ones who are not only poor but who have also lost other essential qualities of life, such as ability to get a job [17
]. Researchers have seen social exclusion as a dynamic process involving the interactions of various contributing factors over time [17
]. On the one hand, Brennan et al. [28
] (p. 145) clearly showed the impacts of interactions between different contributing factors by stating “low educational attainment reduces employability, which causes low incomes, which cause high benefit dependency, which reduces motivation and creates health problems, and all these have an adverse effect back on educational attainment, which affects crime levels, which reduces enterprise and jobs and incomes and so on”. On the other, Burchardt et al. [27
] (p. 232) elaborated “dynamics as one of the distinctive features of the social exclusion literature”. As a result, deprivation is seen as a snapshot at a particular point in time of different aspects of the life situation, which may change due to the interaction of processes over time [28
]. Table 1
shows the process and outcome relationships between social exclusion, deprivation, and poverty.
] (p. 4) classified the following four systems that can trigger the social exclusion problem:
The democratic and legal system, which promotes civic integration;
The labour market, which promotes economic integration;
The welfare system, promoting what may be called social integration; and
The family and community system, which promotes interpersonal integration.
Therefore, it can be said that the failure of certain systems (one or more of the above) that promote civic, economic, social and interpersonal integration in mainstream society lead to social exclusion [31
]. The system view of social exclusion later on conceptualised as agency view that is responsible for causing social exclusion [30
]. Burchardt et al. [30
] classified the agency concept into the following three groups:
Individuals—blaming the socially excluded for their own plight;
Institutions and systems—civil and economic institutions which constrain opportunities for some individuals and which are beyond the control of any individual; and
Discrimination and lack of enforced rights—the exercise of agency by some, acting to protect their own interests, and exclude others.
Unlike poverty, social exclusion is generally agreed to be a relative concept [21
]. A person cannot be judged to be socially excluded in isolation and needs to be considered in the wider context of the activities of others, unlike the measure of poverty where economists take no account of whether the respondents are living in the same street or neighbourhood [34
]. Following the relativity concept, Burchardt et al. [27
] (p. 230) proposed the following definition: “an individual is socially excluded if (a) he or she is geographically resident in a society and (b) he or she does not participate in the normal activities of citizens in that society”.
This statement is considered as one of the first quasi-operational definitions because earlier definitions are far too vague to form the basis of operational measurement (see [19
]) for a range of definitions of social exclusion]. This definition refers to relativity to the place in question [51
]. On the other, it refers to measurable entities such as “participation” [19
]. However, Department for Transport [19
] criticised this definition from two perspectives:
It does not define what constitutes normal activities; and
It does not define what level of engagement constitutes participation in these activities.
Nevertheless, Burchardt et al. [27
] considered five types of activity as normal in their empirical treatment of the definition (e.g., consumption, savings, production, political, and social). In their subsequent study, Burchardt et al. [50
] (p. 30) slightly modified the above definition of social exclusion to: “an individual is socially excluded if he or she does not participate in key activities of the society in which he or she lives”.
In their latter study, they have addressed the weaknesses identified by Department for Transport [19
] in the following ways. First, key activities have been operationalised using four dimensions of activities: consumption, production, political engagement, and social interaction. Second, the level of engagement is measured by duration of participation. In both studies, Burchardt et al. [27
] considered a lack of participation as a key outcome of social exclusion. They have explained that indicators used to measure deprivation (e.g., income and employment) are the causes or risk factors of social exclusion rather than the outcomes. They argued that none of these characteristics would be regarded as constituting social exclusion if the individual was able—perhaps against the odds—to participate in their identified dimensions. Consequently, a lack of participation in activities is adapted as the ultimate outcome of social exclusion by many researchers [7
]. Pringle and Walsh [35
] (p. 3) specified that “[social exclusion] can refer to a state which goes beyond deprivation by implying an inability to participate fully in social and economic activities, including those which influence decision making”.
In a similar way, Shortall [27
] (p. 455) emphasized that “social inclusion means the participation, and the ability to participate, in political and social structures”. Therefore, it appears that social exclusion is both as a process and as an outcome [45
]. However, if social exclusion is measured using participation as an indicator, a distinction must be made with other concepts that are also measured by participation. Shortall [25
] pointed out that social exclusion, civic engagement, and social capital are often used interchangeably in the literature because the key measure of these concepts is based on participation though these concepts are not identical. This work argued that clarity is required prior to its usage which otherwise may mislead the identification of the socially excluded.
Social capital refers to the advantages an individual can gain from formal or informal social participation, in the form of civic engagement [6
]. Typical indicators of social capital include participation in social organisations such as political parties, clubs, trade union, church, women’s organisations, membership in organisations, attendance in meetings, and so on [6
]. Therefore, a significant overlap can be identified between the measures of social exclusion and social capital using participation as an indicator. In summary, the understanding is that civic engagement refers to participation in only social and civic activities, whereas the term social inclusion is used to describe the ability to participate in all types of activities.
3.2. Measures of Social Exclusion
Measures used to identify social exclusion are therefore both process-oriented and outcome oriented. In relation to the process-oriented approach, for instance, a number of authors have investigated the nature of the labour market and its impacts on social exclusion (see [28
]). Multiple deprivation measures, such as the intermediate outcomes, are the traditional approaches to identifying deprived neighbourhoods in the UK [39
]. Table 2
shows the different dimensions of deprivation considered in the English Indices of Deprivation (EID), Northern Ireland Multiple Deprivation Measure (NIMDM), Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD), and Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation (WIMD) measures. Wide ranges of indicators were used to measure deprivation in each dimension. The score (or rank) of each dimension was subsequently summed up (weighted summation or exponentially transformed) to form a composite deprivation index.
Burchardt et al. [27
], on the other hand, developed a set of disaggregated measures using indicators related to participation in order to identify individuals at risk of being excluded (Table 3
). They have analysed cross-sectional and longitudinal participation in these dimensions using the British Household Panel Survey data for the period of 1991–1995. This work has shown that participation in consumption activity is the most common form of exclusion whereas social isolation is the least common form of exclusion. They have also reported that less than 1% of respondents are excluded in all dimensions, whereas 55% of respondents are not excluded in any dimension. In their subsequent study, Burchardt et al. [50
] have extended the analysis for the period of 1991–1998 to examine the dynamics of exclusion. They have found that exclusion on a particular dimension has a much stronger association over time than the associations between different dimensions at a single point in time.
Although Burchardt et al. [27
] have not found any specific groups that are socially excluded, a third aspect of social exclusion measures involved the identification of groups that are usually classified as socially excluded in related literature. For instance, Santana [59
] has identified groups that are reported as socially excluded comprised of children in poverty, single parents, elderly in poverty, unemployed, immigrants, alcohol addicts, consumers of hard drugs, prisoners and ex-prisoners, and homeless. This work has investigated the health situation of these groups in Portugal and found that they are in greater risk of adverse health outcomes than that of the general population. Similarly, Shortall [25
] has interviewed three groups viz. women, small farmers, and Protestants in Northern Ireland to explore their participation in rural development initiatives. These groups are typically referred to as socially excluded in rural development documents in Northern Ireland [25
]. This work found that although the Protestants were active in civic engagement, they were reluctant to participate in development initiatives for ideological and theological reasons. This work also found that in spite of having strong social networks (social capital) women are structurally excluded, while small farmers chose not to participate in rural development programs because they have seen these programs as competing with their farming.
3.3. Transport Disadvantage and Social Exclusion
Lack of participation in activities has been identified as the key outcome of social exclusion [27
]. Studies have found strong evidence to indicate that significant barriers to participation in key activities (e.g., job, education, health, and social) are either a lack of suitable transport or a lack of accessible opportunities or a combination of both [2
]. The transport disadvantaged therefore are those who face these problems. As a result, policy is increasingly concerned with meeting the needs of these groups and individuals [13
]. Stanley and Stanley [65
] (p. 14) have defined transport disadvantage as “a situation where people experience a shortage of transport options, which restricts their mobility and hence their access to goods, services and relationships”.
However, the above definition is incomplete due to the fact that it has not considered urban accessibility issues. Several authors have mentioned that poor mobility may be compensated by the presence of good accessibility to opportunities (e.g., urban accessibility)—for instance, if local shops, employment and services are available and within reach [6
]. Therefore, it is clear that transport disadvantage is a function of both access to opportunities (e.g., urban accessibility) and access to transport—both personal mobility and public transport accessibility. Using this concept, Hurni [66
] (p. 1) has first provided an operational definition of transport disadvantage as “a situation where disadvantaged groups of people live in transport disadvantaged areas”. Transport disadvantaged areas were referred to as locations with poor public transport accessibility and low levels of urban accessibility whereas specific populations with similar mobility (personal) constraints were regarded as transport disadvantaged groups.
As a result, transport researchers have highlighted to establish the “mobility rights” and “accessibility rights” of citizen to combat social exclusion [29
]. A just society ensures participation in society to its entire members and is therefore an inclusive society [52
]. An important element of social inclusion is, therefore, a matter of overcoming the constraints—constraints on the ability to travel—to gain access to the opportunities [2
]. Casas [67
] has mentioned that when the access rights are not secured, population is at a disadvantage and social exclusion occurs. Preston and Rajé [54
] have indicated that social exclusion is not due to a lack of social opportunities to participate in but a lack of access to those opportunities. On the other hand, Cass et al. [29
] (p. 539) have highlighted the need to establish the mobility rights of citizenship stating: “Exclusion results from some combination of distance, inadequate transport and limited ways of communicating; that these exclusions are unfair or discriminatory; and that local and national government should reduce such socio-spatial exclusion. This implies that citizenship is no longer confined … to civil, political and social rights, but that there are also what we might term mobility rights.”
Accessibility and mobility are referred here as the “ease of reaching” and the “ease of moving” respectively [54
]. Mobility is the measure of the means of transport and their level of efficiency [71
]. In transportation, these are reflected on the ability of the transport system to provide the same level of access to different opportunities to all members of a society [67
]. Those who are unable to engage in physical travel (whatever the reason) will be unable to participate and be socially excluded [29
]. Transport is clearly a key element in achieving social inclusion [6
]. From this point of view, greater social inclusion requires greater mobility and/or greater accessibility [2
]. This link between transport and social exclusion has been referred to as transport related social exclusion. Kenyon et al. [8
] (pp. 210–211) have defined transport related social exclusion as “the process by which people are prevented from participating in the economic, political and social life of the community because of reduced accessibility to opportunities, services and social networks, due in whole or in part to insufficient mobility in a society and environment built around the assumption of high mobility”.