THE SOCIAL EXCLUSION DEBATE
This article explores the UK government's approach to combating social exclusion since 1997. It considers the philosophy and political economy underpinning New Labour's approach, and explains the policy prescriptions that follow from these principles. The government's social exclusion agenda has provoked a wide range of controversies and debates in the academic and political communities and the article explores key areas of contention. The story of New Labour's political economy of social exclusion is interspersed with discussion of eight controversies and dilemmas, representing a range of critical responses to Third Way thinking about social inclusion. It is concluded that New Labour's approach to social exclusion is contractarian, offering conditional access to the mainstream to outsiders. It is distinct from and in opposition to traditional socialist and social democratic politics.
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