social democracy

noun

Definition of social democracy

1 : a political movement advocating a gradual and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism by democratic means
2 : a democratic welfare state that incorporates both capitalist and socialist practices

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from social democracy

social democrat noun
social democratic adjective

Socialism vs. Social Democracy: Usage Guide

In the many years since socialism entered English around 1830, it has acquired several different meanings. It refers to a system of social organization in which private property and the distribution of income are subject to social control, but the conception of that control has varied, and the term has been interpreted in widely diverging ways, ranging from statist to libertarian, from Marxist to liberal. In the modern era, "pure" socialism has been seen only rarely and usually briefly in a few Communist regimes. Far more common are systems of social democracy, now often referred to as democratic socialism, in which extensive state regulation, with limited state ownership, has been employed by democratically elected governments (as in Sweden and Denmark) in the belief that it produces a fair distribution of income without impairing economic growth.

Examples of social democracy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Spending the day in Denmark after C40, enjoying this social democracy that treats healthcare & education as rights, zero-carbon as priority, & infrastructure as a key public good. Jack Crowe, National Review, "A Democrat, and Social Conservative, Challenges Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez," 17 Oct. 2019 At the other end is social democracy, which is common in Europe. Maggie Astor, New York Times, "What Is Democratic Socialism? Whose Version Are We Talking About?," 12 June 2019 In particular, social democracy’s decline raises some key questions. Sheri Berman, Vox, "The development and decay of democracy," 18 June 2019 But social democracy’s economic shift created a golden opportunity for these parties. Sheri Berman, Vox, "The development and decay of democracy," 18 June 2019 As such, the emerging progressive approach is far different from what prevails in Europe’s social democracies. Matthew Zeitlin, Vox, "Can Elizabeth Warren build a bigger welfare state without taxing the middle class?," 2 July 2019 There’s only one problem: Billionaires and social democracy are both doing quite well, thank you, in Scandinavia. Karl W. Smith, Twin Cities, "Karl W. Smith: Billionaires aren’t the problem," 23 June 2019 Though the senator continues to call himself a democratic socialist, his vague definition of socialism is still closer to the social democracy that FDR ushered in. Conor Lynch, The New Republic, "The Left’s Failure to Envision a World Without Capitalism," 12 June 2019 After neutralizing the threats of both separatism and rightwing populism, Sánchez has set his sights on a bigger role for Spain within the EU—with the express intention of reviving social democracy. Omar G. Encarnación, The New York Review of Books, "Will Spain Be the Savior of Social Democracy in Europe?," 28 May 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'social democracy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of social democracy

1848, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about social democracy

Statistics for social democracy

Last Updated

11 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for social democracy

The first known use of social democracy was in 1848

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for social democracy

social democracy

noun

English Language Learners Definition of social democracy

formal
: a political movement that uses principles of democracy to change a capitalist country to a socialist one
: a country that uses both capitalist and socialist practices

More from Merriam-Webster on social democracy

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about social democracy

Comments on social democracy

What made you want to look up social democracy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to spread as a report or rumor

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Confusing Words—A Quiz

  • alice with tweedle dee and tweedle dum
  • I invented a brand new toaster robot and ______ it "Sir Toasts-a-Lot."
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!