Social democracy

Political ideology within the socialist movement / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Social democracy is a political, social, and economic philosophy within socialism[1] that supports political and economic democracy and supports a gradualist, reformist and democratic approach towards achieving socialism, usually under a social liberal framework.[2] In practice, social democracy takes a form of socially managed welfare capitalism, achieved with partial public ownership, economic interventionism, and policies promoting social equality.[3]

Social democracy maintains a commitment to representative and participatory democracy. Common aims include curbing inequality, eliminating the oppression of underprivileged groups, eradicating poverty, and upholding universally accessible public services such as child care, education, elderly care, health care, and workers' compensation.[4][5] Economically, it supports income redistribution and regulating the economy in the public interest.[6]

Social democracy has a strong, long-standing connection with trade unions and the broader labour movement. It is supportive of measures to foster greater democratic decision-making in the economic sphere, including co-determination, collective bargaining rights for workers, and expanding ownership to employees and other stakeholders.[7]

The history of social democracy stretches back to the 19th-century labour movement. Originally a catch-all term for socialists of varying tendencies, after the Russian Revolution, it came to refer to reformist socialists that are opposed to the authoritarian and centralized Soviet model of socialism.[8] In the post-war era, social democrats embraced mixed economies with a predominance of private property and promoted the regulation of capitalism over its replacement with a qualitatively different socialist economic system.[9] Since then, social democracy has been associated with Keynesian economics, the Nordic model, social liberalism, and welfare states.[10]

Social democracy has been described as the most common form of Western or modern socialism,[11] and democratic socialism.[12] Amongst social democrats, attitudes towards socialism vary: some retain socialism as a long-term goal[13] while others view it as an ethical ideal to guide reforms within capitalism. One way social democracy can be distinguished from democratic socialism is social democracy aims to strike a balance by advocating for a mixed market economy where capitalism is regulated to address inequalities through social welfare programs. It supports private ownership with a strong emphasis on a well-regulated market, on the other hand, democratic socialism places greater emphasis on abolishing private property ownership.[14] Nevertheless, the distinction remains blurred[15] and the term is commonly used synonymously.

The Third Way is an off-shoot of social democracy which aims to fuse economically liberal with social democratic economic policies and center-left social policies. It is a reconceptualization of social democracy developed in the 1990s and embraced by some social democratic parties; some analysts have characterized the Third Way as part of the neoliberal movement.[16]

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