Social exclusion in a post-industrial city: Towards a critical urban social work perspective

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Many cities around the world have been radically transformed by deindustrialisation, neoliberalism, and globalisation. While these processes have marked progress in various aspects of urban life, they have also generated inequality and social exclusion especially in already marginalised communities. The purpose of this article is threefold: to address community exclusion in a post-industrial city, to identify mechanisms and practices that propel it; and to move towards a preliminary conceptualisation of post-industrial urban marginalisation for social work. We build on data from a qualitative study in a post-industrial city in Israel that applied interviews (N =30) and focus groups (N =63), documents, walking tours and observations. The findings confirm the progressive deterioration of the communities under study and identify multiple institutional practices in three main mechanisms: service erosion, spatial deterioration, and political disempowerment. These mechanisms manifested urban policies reflected at the local level, while sustaining a dynamic that spiralled community marginalisation. Study implications suggest that social work practice and research in post-industrial cities should (a) be informed by the urban context affecting communities (b) critically re-examine services and programmes to identify their possible effect on urban mechanisms of exclusion (c) adopt a multidisciplinary approach to confront the varied aspects of urban community marginalisation.

Translated title of the contributionהדרה חברתית בעיר פוסט-תעשייתית: לקראת פיתוח גישה אורבנית ביקורתית בעבודה סוציאלית
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1015-1027
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Work
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author would like to thank all the research participants who volunteered their time and knowledge, as well as Prof. Roni Strier, and the University of Haifa for the support of this study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Social exclusion
  • community
  • critical social work
  • post-industrial
  • urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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