Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services


Family Science and Human Development

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

David Schwarzer

Committee Member

Katia Paz Goldfarb

Committee Member

Pearl Stewart


Social exclusion and inclusion are concepts that have been researched and debated in European contexts, among middle-class families, and from a quantitative perspective. However, these concepts have not been explored in depth within an American context. The social exclusion debate often centers around its several definitions where no clear consensus has been achieved, which results problematic among researchers. This dissertation had several purposes: 1) To describe how I researched, developed, and delivered a financial intervention literacy program with participating low-income Latina mothers. 2) To provide a critical overview of the social exclusion literature, where a distinction between social exclusion and poverty will be highlighted. In this section, its diverse dimensions (e.g., economic, societal, political, cultural) will be described. 3) To reconceptualize social inclusion, where three concepts will be discussed: a) shifting from social exclusion, a deficit view, to social inclusion, a strength-based perspective, b) shifting from a dichotomy perception (yes/no) to a spectrum perspective (high, middle and low), and c), shifting from a static view (you have it or not) to a fluid one (we can improve it depending on the intervention). 4) Finally, to provide a definition of social inclusion, since a proper one has not been introduced. This dissertation asserts the need to focus on social inclusion, a strength perspective, rather than social exclusion, which stems from a deficit view. The intervention was based on a financial literacy program called Money Smart for Adults and provided the space where eight Latina mothers reflected and acted on their social inclusion challenges. Data collection took take place at a community center located in the Northeast area of the U.S. The delivery of the intervention applied a teaching philosophy composed by negotiation of the curriculum, holistic learning, and critical thinking. Importantly, along with confirming typical dimensions of social inclusion (economic, societal, and political), findings uncovered two new dimensions not found in traditional social exclusion and inclusion literature: language and technological inclusion. Finally, this dissertation study ends with a discussion on implications, future research and practitioner recommendations.

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