social democracy


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

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 In a sense, the social-democratic platform succeeded so that the kinds of social benefits associated with social democracy are now well entrenched in France; even right-wingers do not intend to repeal them. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 14 Apr. 2022 American Europhiles are equally unaware of the price tag of social democracy: If the U.S had Denmark’s fiscal policy, Harsanyi writes, everyone who makes more than $65,000 a year would hit the maximum 55.9 percent income-tax rate. Kyle Smith, National Review, 5 Apr. 2022 This remarkably weak Democratic trifecta can't usher in Scandinavian-style social democracy or tackle climate change in any meaningful way. David Faris, The Week, 29 Mar. 2022 What the party did not do in the early twentieth century was become a vehicle for social democracy, powered by organized labor and advocating for the pillars of a modern welfare state, as emerging mass parties in Western Europe did at the time. Sam Rosenfeld, The New Republic, 15 Feb. 2022 As a member of the Left Opposition, Hitchens believed in some form of social democracy all his life. Matthew Continetti, National Review, 26 Dec. 2021 Despite its reputation as a squeaky-clean bastion of social democracy, the revelations about Danske Bank’s Estonia unit came to reveal deep flaws in the compliance systems of some of the region’s other leading banks. Dylan Tokar, WSJ, 3 Jan. 2022 Meanwhile, the vaunted history of social democracy is not really a story about youth. James Chappel, The New Republic, 15 Nov. 2021 The progressive goal of moving toward a European-style social democracy is colliding with America’s anti-tax reality. Brian Riedl, National Review, 17 Sep. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of social democracy

1848, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of social democracy was in 1848

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Dictionary Entries Near social democracy

social Darwinism

social democracy

social disease

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Last Updated

27 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Social democracy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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