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Social exclusion is understood as a process whereby certain individuals are pushed to the edge of society and prevented from participating fully in social life, by virtue of their poverty, their lack of basic competencies and lifelong learning opportunities, or as a result of discrimination. Thus, exclusion from economic life may result from the lack of basic skills and education or from political or cultural discrimination. Such exclusion may become self-perpetuating, because the lack of resources will make it more difficult to overcome poverty. When the excluded find themselves in residential proximity with others in their condition, spatial segregation becomes an additional constraining element in their lives. Social exclusion is therefore treated as a multidimensional concept, including not only income, but also other indicators that define the
conditions of the life-world. Acknowledging that social exclusion may have economic, cultural, political and spatial dimensions, each triggering/strengthening one another, emphasis is placed on self-sustaining cycles where negative conditions attain permanence due to mutually-reinforcing interactions among different dimensions of exclusion.