General Knowledge
Amartya Sen
Asian Development Bank
Published in
Submitted by
Related theme(s)
Social Development
All Regions

Social Exclusion: Concept, Application, and Scrutiny

This paper is the first in a series of Social Development Papers, which

are being issued to promote discussion of social development issues that

influence development and poverty reduction. We are pleased that the

inaugural paper in the series is an exposition by Nobel laureate Amartya

Sen on an important and often overlooked dimension of poverty–social


It is generally recognized that poverty has both material and nonmaterial

dimensions. Because of their obvious tangibility, many development

practitioners find it easier to understand and address the material

dimensions of poverty.

The exclusion of the poor from participation in and access to opportunities

and activities is a major nonmaterial dimension of poverty that also needs

to be recognized and addressed. This paper helps us to understand social

exclusion as both a cause and a consequence of poverty. I hope that the

ideas conveyed in the paper will have a dual impact: first, that they will

help development practitioners to obtain a better understanding and

appreciation of the nonmaterial dimensions of poverty; and second, that

they will stimulate discussion that will help development practitioners to

respond effectively to this dimension of poverty reduction.