social democracy

noun

plural social democracies
: a democratic welfare state (see welfare state sense 1) that incorporates both capitalist and socialist practices
American politicians dismiss the Scandinavian model as creeping socialism, communism lite. … In truth, social democracies are successful precisely because they foment dynamic capitalist economies that just happen to benefit every tier of society.Wade Davis
For in Europe, one finds that virtually all political parties embrace social democracy. This is true even for many conservative governments—not just in Scandinavia, but also in France and Germany—which have embraced the originally German idea of a social market economy in which free market excesses are tempered with support for those who are falling through the cracks.Klaus F. Zimmermann
social democrat noun
plural social democrats
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 social democracies, such as Sweden and Denmark, democratically elected governments that employ some socialist practices but within a capitalist framework in the belief that extensive state regulation paired with limited state ownership produces a fair distribution of income without impairing economic growth. While social democracy has in the past been used synonymously with democratic socialism, referring to a movement seeking to achieve and perpetuate economic socialism through politically democratic means, the two terms are no longer considered interchangeable.

Examples of social democracy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The second order, dubbed neoliberalism by scholars, arose in 1979 and 1980 in response to the struggles of social democracy to rein in high inflation. Alan Green / Made By History, TIME, 25 June 2024 In its place, many of them claim to want a kind of conservative social democracy. Michelle Orange, Harper's Magazine, 3 Nov. 2023 The threat of Soviet communism encouraged a compromise between free-market capitalism and social democracy. Peter Trubowitz and Brian Burgoon, Foreign Affairs, 24 Oct. 2023 In a country with an administrative state as ambitious as ours is and amid growing openness to the ideas of social democracy on left and right, those core commitments need defending now more than ever. Dominic Pino, National Review, 15 Dec. 2023 See all Example Sentences for social democracy 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'social democracy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1947, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of social democracy was in 1947

Dictionary Entries Near social democracy

Cite this Entry

“Social democracy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/social%20democracy. Accessed 16 Jul. 2024.

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