During the 1990s, the notion of “social exclusion” has given a new impetus to the debate about poverty and disadvantage. This paper assesses the extent of conceptual reconfiguration that the concept of social exclusion involves and the implications for empirical research and policy evaluation. It proceeds to examine critically the extent to which current notions of social exclusion risk neglecting patterns of inequality in the wider society. It concludes by arguing that the globalization of our market economies is tending to erode the support which more advantaged groups are ready to offer and to force retrenchment of the formal welfare organizations on which the poor can call. In a global economy, moral solidarity with the disadvantaged atrophies, and the national communities within which the postwar welfare states were built no longer serve as the focus for good neighbourliness.