BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Global Health and Marginalization



The term marginalization is a well recognized social factor and a determinant of health used across disciplines including health, education, sociology, psychology, law, public policy, politics and economics. Marginalization, also known as social exclusion, can be described as a situation whereby individuals or groups are systematically and structurally deprived or denied access to some rights, opportunities and resources that are normally available to other individuals or groups. According to World Health Organization, social exclusion is driven by dynamic processes that consist of unequal power relationships across the economic, political, social and cultural aspects of the society.  It occurs at different levels including individual, family, community, national and international levels. Marginalization may be based on factors such as race, age, gender, class, status, religious affiliation, disability, ethnic origin, educational status, prejudice, living standards, or appearance. It is visible in many aspects of the society including healthcare, housing, employment, civic engagement, democratic participation, and due process.

Marginalization is demonstrated through subtle or obvious actions including use of derogatory language, assuming people’s accomplishments are not based on merit, stereotyping, denying people academic or professional opportunities because of their identity, limiting access to certain resources based on membership in a particular group, disregarding people’s cultural or religious traditions and values.

Marginalization results in unequal access to, and use of resources, potentials and rights of people which leads to health inequalities. The consequences of marginalization and social exclusion are evident in societies, as affected individuals or communities are prevented from participating extensively in the economic, social, and political life of their respective societies. Several health problems, notably, mental health problems, can arise from social exclusion. Feelings associated with poor mental health such as low self-esteem, stress, rejection, loss of social connections, loneliness, hopelessness, isolation, resentment, decreased opportunities for engagement, boredom and stigma are experienced by marginalized people and groups. A study published on American Journal of Psychology found that individuals who were marginalized behaved more aggressively compared to those who were not. In the study, several experiments showed that people who were excluded were aggressive towards the people who excluded them and non-aggressive to people who did not exclude them. These responses were specific to social exclusion and when translated to the society implies that marginalization perpetuates division, hatred, paranoia, resentment, aggression and the likes.

Marginalization can be addressed if all individuals can speak up or act when any act of injustice, intolerance, or oppression is being carried out

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