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What is marginalization? 

Marginalization is when a person or group of people are less able to access services or opportunities. It is also sometimes known as social exclusion. Whole societies can be marginalized at a global level while classes and communities can be marginalized due to the dominant social order in a given society. Likewise, families, ethnic groups, and individuals can be marginalized more locally.  

Marginalization is associated with social status so some groups may have a high social status and benefit from this at one point in time, but with social change they may lose that status and become marginalized. 

In the workplace, this can look like being excluded from meetings, not having access to promotion or development opportunities, and even being left out of opportunities to socialise with colleagues. This can create a very isolating experience for many people. 


What are the main causes of marginalization? 

Societies are created and maintained by those in power. In a democracy, it’s the people who get to pick those in power that share our societies, but policies and decisions are still decided by a small few. The further a person is from these people, the higher the chance their needs are not considered. For example, even in a democracy, minority groups still struggle to achieve equal access to education, employment and even housing. 

Here are three causes or contributing factors to marginalization: 


1. Discrimination and bias:

Racism, sexism, religious discrimination and other forms of social discrimination can cause policymakers or members in a community to produce structures that hinder particular groups from fully participating in society. 


2. Poverty:

Impoverished people seldom have time or resources to advocate for their interests. This may be because they live in a marginalized community already or because they do not have access to resources to spend time fighting to provide for themselves and family. One example of how poverty contributes to marginalization is that those who are homeless cannot access mental health services or other social supports that could improve their quality of life. This keeps them stuck in a marginalized position because they have no way to access these services. 


3. Structural disadvantages:

There are times when societies can marginalize people by denying them necessary accommodations they require to advocate for their needs. For example, a lack of accessible housing for disabled people can increase poverty levels and marginalization for this group. 


What are the three types of marginalization? 

Marginalization comes in many forms and can be directed towards a variety of groups. However, there are three main categories of marginalization; social, economic and political. 


1. Social marginalization

Those who experience this kind of marginalization are excluded from social opportunities that other groups do have access to. They cannot use the same services or live in segregated and social excluded communities. This often impacts ethnic minority groups and affects generations of families. 


2. Economic marginalization

This type of marginalization creates societies where certain groups of people do not have the same opportunities to participate in, contribute to and benefit from the economy. They do not get access to good employment opportunities either because they may not have been able to attend a school that equips them with the necessary skills to enter certain sectors. 


3. Political marginalization

This type of marginalization means that some groups are unable to participate in democratic decision-making. It is very difficult to have your voice and needs heard if you do not have a seat at the table in the first place. This can create societies where politicians ignore the needs of marginalized or minority communities and give priority to the needs of the majority instead. 



There are a variety of factors that contribute to making people feel marginalized. This can include discrimination, poverty and structural disadvantages that create unequal societies. In terms of the types of marginalization, three main categories are social, economic and political. In order to ensure everyone's needs are met in society, and to reduce the number of marginalized communities, these groups need to be included in decision making processes. Policies should be developed to support the variety of needs that impact marginalized communities. 

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