Social and economic marginalization

Social and economic marginalization

Marginalization – sometimes also called social exclusion – refers to the relegation to the fringes of society due to a lack of access to rights, resources, and opportunities. It is a major cause of vulnerability, which refers to exposure to a range of possible harms, and being unable to deal with them adequately.


Marginalization deprives people from having an active voice, identity, or place in the community.


Individuals and groups can be marginalized on the basis of multiple aspects of their identity, including but not limited to: race, gender or gender identity, ability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, sexuality, age, and/or religion. Some individuals identify with multiple marginalized groups, and may experience further marginalization as a result of their intersecting identities.


Marginalization can manifest in subtle or overt actions including:


  • Use of derogatory language
  • Assuming someone’s accomplishments are not based on merit
  • Expecting individuals to act a certain way based on stereotypes held about another’s identity
  • Denying someone academic or professional opportunities because of their identity (i.e. racism, sexism, ableism)
  • Not providing equal access to certain resources based on membership in a particular group
  • Assuming preferred pronoun without asking
  • Assuming sexual orientation without asking
  • Overlooking, criticizing, or interfering with other’s cultural or religious traditions and values
  • Systemic and/or institutionalized barriers to access and support


Marginalized groups experience social, economic, cultural and educational strain as a result of marginalization. They could be systemically excluded from development programs and plans, targeted in their identity, cultural heritage and social norms.


Marginalized groups could be:


  • Women
  • Refugees and Displaced people
  • Indigenous People
  • Religious and Ethnic Minorities
  • LGBTQ Community
  • Older People
  • People with Disabilities
  • People with Mental Health Needs


Social and economic inclusion is fundamental to healthy, productive societies, and for ensuring that all citizens have access to affordable essential services. Government, industry and civil society all have a role to play in the achievement of inclusive economic growth.


Economic inclusion refers to equality of opportunity for all members of society to participate in the economic life of their country as employers, entrepreneurs, consumers, and citizens.


Social inclusion is the process of improving the terms on which individuals and groups take part in society—improving the ability, opportunity, and dignity of those disadvantaged on the basis of their identity.