Social exclusion among urban ethnic minority youth in the Northeast United States: A reflective view on community supportive structures


Social exclusion occurs as a combination of challenges (e.g., unemployment, high poverty, family conflict) that limits life opportunities. Social exclusion has been researched within European contexts, among middle-class families, and from quantitative perspectives. However, research on the topic among urban ethnic minority youth and using qualitative methodologies has remained elusive in the U.S. Although collaborative efforts between governmental institutions and community-based coalitions have helped develop intervention efforts to decrease social exclusion among youth in low-income urban areas, it continues to develop within families, communities, and societies. Therefore, this research explored experiences of social exclusion among low-income minority youth in an urban community in the Northeast U.S. Data were collected from nine focus groups (N = 58). The goal was to explore how urban ethnic minority youth understood social exclusion and the community resources they used to navigate its challenges. Findings included economic and societal exclusion in the form of economic deprivation and lack of appropriate safety nets. Although youth expressed a lack of community connection in the form of community exclusion, they applied a reflective view on how inequality shaped their lives, while discussing pathways towards social inclusion. This reflection was emphasized by the importance of developing bridging and bonding relationships (mentoring).

DOI Code: 10.1285/i24212113v6i2-1p38

Keywords: bridging and bonding, mentoring, social exclusion, ethnic minority youth, urban youth


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