In light of the emphasis on "inclusion" in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this paper contends that social exclusion and inclusion are context-dependent concepts in at least three senses. First, the ideal of an inclusive society varies by country and by region. Second, different places have different histories, cultures, institutions and social structures. These influence the economic, social and political dimensions of social exclusion and the interplay among them. Third, context - where one lives - shapes access to resources and opportunities. Social inclusion is thus spatially uneven. The paper also shows how context matters, identifying some of the mechanisms by which nation-states and localities influence processes of economic, social, and political exclusion and inclusion. 1. Introduction -- 2. Contextualizing the meaning of social inclusion -- 3. National conceptions of social inclusion -- 4. National contextual effects on social inclusion -- 5. Neighbourhood contexts -- 6. Conclusions.