Social Inclusion


Social inclusion is the process of ensuring that those at risk of poverty and social exclusion have the opportunities and resources necessary to participate fully in economic, social and cultural life, enjoying a standard of living and well-being that is considered normal in the society in which they live". It emphasizes the right of people to "have an associated life as a member of a community. social inclusion can affect individuals as well as groups or communities. 

Exclusion may be related to access to economic resources due to gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, or to being young, or an immigrant, or to having physical or psychological limitations, lack of basic training or literacy, etc. 

Social inclusion policies focus on job opportunities, access to the health system, decent housing and education. Social inclusion can be fostered also through discourses and culture (media, art, literature etc). 

The concept of social inclusion is a recent one and, consequently, so is its practical application; government policies for inclusion have started to be implemented in the latest decades. For example, in the EU in 2010, the strategy for growth and employment was included as an objective of Europe 2020 with the aim of lifting at least twenty million people out of the risk of poverty or social exclusion by 2020. However, the global economic crisis has prevented the full achievement of the objective, although there have been general improvements in most Member States since 2013. 


The main indicator for determining the risk of social exclusion is the AROPE (At Risk of Poverty and/or Exclusion), which is determined on the basis of three main sub-indicators: 

  • the percentage of people living in a household with a net income below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold.   
  • severe material deprivation, which measures the proportion of people who cannot afford certain goods that indicate a decent standard of living. 
  • family labour intensity, which measures the activity of the population between zero and fifty-nine years of age in households where working-age persons worked less than 20% of their total work potential during the previous year. 

People are considered to be at risk of poverty or social exclusion if they suffer from at least one of the three dimensions of poverty described above. Some people are simultaneously affected by two or even all three types of poverty. 

As can be seen, this indicator is closely linked to social exclusion due to the risk of poverty, leaving out other types of exclusion risks such as those derived from disabilities or cultural issues.   


The links between fashion, food and social inclusion are many. Perhaps the most important is that both sectors are among the main employers of people at risk of social exclusion. 

The production chain of large fashion companies is based on manufacturing in developing countries, which makes large fashion companies very important agents for social inclusion. The sustainable policies of first world fashion companies and the requirements they set for third-party contracting are capable of improving the working conditions of a large number of people and, in fact, facilitating their social inclusion. 

On the other hand, the agri-food and hotel and catering sectors in first world countries, and specifically in the EU, need immigrant labour, a group at risk of social exclusion. Although it is true that both the hotel and catering industry and agriculture have a very high rate of temporary hiring, they function as a first step for the labour insertion of a good number of people. 

In terms of entrepreneurship, especially in female entrepreneurship, fashion and food are two of the most diffused entrepreneurial industries. Because of their proximity to fashion and food products, women tend to start businesses in these industries. 

Recently, and as a growing link between fashion and food, there is a growing trend to incorporate inclusion criteria when designing fashion collections for brands. It is beginning to address the needs of people with large sizes that until recently were outside the target to which the brands were directed, there is a marked interest in expanding the design for all body types. The movement that brings together this idea is "body-positive" although there is some controversy due to the normalization of obesity that goes with it. This trend is extensible to the inclusion of people with special needs in clothing design. 

Dove: Launched in the United States in the 1950s, Dove is a beauty brand that defines its mission in the following terms: To make more women feel beautiful every day by expanding the stereotype of beauty today and inspiring women to love and care for themselves more. It is committed to broadening the definition of beauty because we believe that real beauty comes in all sizes, ages and shapes. 

It is the first brand to implement body positive actions and has a well-developed project, also from an educational point of view: 


Torrid Holdings Inc. is an American women's retail chain formerly owned by Hot Topic. While it is still owned by Sycamore Partners, owners of Hot Topic, in 2015, the company branched off to become Torrid, LLC. The store offers plus-size clothing and accessories for women size 10-30. Torrid began operations in April 2001. The first location opened in the Brea Mall in Brea, California. As of 2020, Torrid has over 600 stores in operation across 36 states in the United States. Torrid opened its first store in 2001, and an international store in Canada (Toronto) in August 2015.] In July 2021, the company went public on the New York Stock Exchange, under the symbol CURV. 

a) Academic/peer reviewed 

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Estudio comparado sobre estrategias de inclusión activa en los países de la Unión Europea. Ministerio de Sanidad, Política Social e Igualdad, Centro de Publicaciones. Retrieved from 

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