Social exclusion describes a process by which certain groups are thoroughly disadvantaged because they are discriminated against on the basis of their ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, caste, descent, gender, age, disability, HIV status, migrant status or where they live. Discrimination occurs in public institutions, such as the legal system or education and health services, as well as social institutions like the household.
In all societies some groups are socially excluded. However, the groups affected and the degrees of discrimination vary from one society to another, as do the forms that social exclusion takes. However, social exclusion may not result in new learning most of the times. Through the approach of social exclusion one would find livelihood exclusion, which may not reveal new things other than what economic studies have already shown. Similarly ethnicity or caste based exclusion are already studied by sociologists and anthropologists in great detail. Therefore the approach of social exclusion is multi - dimensional, which attempts at giving balanced and due importance to different factors traditionally under domain of specific disciplines.