What is the Difference Between Socialism and Social Democracy

The main difference between socialism and social democracy is that socialism is a socioeconomic system based on the public ownership of the means of production, whereas social democracy is a political ideology that advocates the government to provide certain social and economic rights necessary for the well-being of all members of the society.

Socialism and social democracy are two related terms people define in different ways. In fact, there are several overlaps between these two concepts, which make it differentiate between them.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Socialism  
     – Definition, Features
2. What is Social Democracy
     – Definition, Features
3. Difference Between Socialism and Social Democracy
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Socialism, Social Democracy

Difference Between Socialism and Social Democracy - Comparison Summary

What is Socialism

Socialism is an economic and social system characterized by the public ownership of the means of production (elements required to produce goods and services: capital, land, and capital). In other words, in a socialist society, each person in society has equal ownership of the means of production. Moreover, this type of public or state ownership typically happens through a democratically elected government. Socialism is also the direct opposite of capitalism.

Socialism vs Social Democracy

In a pure socialist economic system, everyone works for wealth, and there is an equal distribution of wealth among everyone. Furthermore, the underlying premise of a socialist economic system is that “what is good for one is good for all”. Moreover, in a pure socialist economy, the state makes all decisions regarding production and distribution, and people depend on the state for everything from food to healthcare. The states also have the power to decide the goods and services and their price levels. In addition, Cuba, China, Soviet Union, and Venezuela are examples of socialist countries.

What is Social Democracy

Social democracy is a political ideology that advocates the government to provide certain social and economic rights necessary for the well-being of all members of society. It also promotes state regulation of means of production instead of state ownership. This political ideology originally promoted a peaceful social transition from capitalism to socialism using established political processes. This ideology was born in Europe, but social democratic parties promote it in constitutional democracies all over the world. Moreover, these political parties try to organize political support for positive state government actions and promote rights involving basic education rights, acceptable housing, productive employment in the workforce, fair payment for workers, adequate health care, and pension plans for retirees.

Difference Between Socialism and Social Democracy

Definition

Socialism is an economic and social system characterized by the public ownership of the means of production, while social democracy is a political ideology that advocates the government to provide certain social and economic rights necessary for the well-being of all members of the society.

Nature

Socialism is a socioeconomic system, whereas social democracy is a political ideology.

Emphasis

In socialism, there is an emphasis on equality and equal distribution of wealth, whereas, in social democracy, there is emphasis on social welfare programs.

Conclusion

The main difference between socialism and social democracy is that socialism is a socioeconomic system based on the public ownership of the means of production, whereas social democracy is a political ideology that advocates the government to provide certain social and economic rights necessary for the well-being of all members of the society.

Reference:

1. Kenton, Will. “Socialism.” Investopedia, 27 July 2021.
2. “Social Democracy.” Annenberg Classroom, 4 Aug. 2017.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Socialism -A word cloud featuring Socialism(CC BY 2.0)  via EpicTop10.com

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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