Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership of the means of production and workers' self-management,[10] as well as the political theories and movements associated with them.[11] Social ownership can be public, collective or cooperative ownership, or citizen ownership of equity.[12] There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them,[13] with social ownership being the common element shared by its various forms.[5][14][15]

Socialist systems are divided into non-market and market forms.[16] Non-market socialism involves replacing factor markets and money with engineering and technical criteria based on calculation performed in-kind, thereby producing an economic mechanism that functions according to different economic laws from those of capitalism. Non-market socialism aims to circumvent the inefficiencies and crises traditionally associated with capital accumulation and the profit system.[25] By contrast, market socialism retains the use of monetary prices, factor markets and in some cases the profit motive, with respect to the operation of socially owned enterprises and the allocation of capital goods between them. Profits generated by these firms would be controlled directly by the workforce of each firm, or accrue to society at large in the form of a social dividend.[26][27][28] The socialist calculation debate concerns the feasibility and methods of resource allocation for a socialist system.

Socialist politics has been both internationalist and nationalist in orientation; organised through political parties and opposed to party politics; at times overlapping with trade unions, and at other times independent and critical of unions; and present in both industrialised and developing nations.[29] Originating within the socialist movement, social democracy has embraced a mixed economy with a market that includes substantial state intervention in the form of income redistribution, regulation, and a welfare state. Economic democracy proposes a sort of market socialism where there is more decentralised control of companies, currencies, investments, and natural resources.

The socialist political movement includes a set of political philosophies that originated in the revolutionary movements of the mid-to-late 18th century and out of concern for the social problems that were associated with capitalism.[13] By the late 19th century, after the work of Karl Marx and his collaborator Friedrich Engels, socialism had come to signify opposition to capitalism and advocacy for a post-capitalist system based on some form of social ownership of the means of production.[30][31] By the 1920s, social democracy and communism had become the two dominant political tendencies within the international socialist movement.[32] By this time, socialism emerged as "the most influential secular movement of the twentieth century, worldwide. It is a political ideology (or world view), a wide and divided political movement"[33] and while the emergence of the Soviet Union as the world's first nominally socialist state led to socialism's widespread association with the Soviet economic model, some economists and intellectuals argued that in practice the model functioned as a form of state capitalism[34][35][36] or a non-planned administrative or command economy.[37][38] Socialist parties and ideas remain a political force with varying degrees of power and influence on all continents, heading national governments in many countries around the world. Today, some socialists have also adopted the causes of other social movements, such as environmentalism, feminism and progressivism.[39]


For Andrew Vincent, "[t]he word ‘socialism’ finds its root in the Latin sociare, which means to combine or to share. The related, more technical term in Roman and then medieval law was societas. This latter word could mean companionship and fellowship as well as the more legalistic idea of a consensual contract between freemen".[40]

The term "socialism" was created by Henri de Saint-Simon, one of the founders of what would later be labelled "utopian socialism". Simon coined the term as a contrast to the liberal doctrine of "individualism", which stressed that people act or should act as if they are in isolation from one another.[41] The original "utopian" socialists condemned liberal individualism for failing to address social concerns during the industrial revolution, including poverty, social oppression and gross inequalities in wealth, thus viewing liberal individualism as degenerating society into supporting selfish egoism that harmed community life through promoting a society based on competition.[41] They presented socialism as an alternative to liberal individualism based on the shared ownership of resources, although their proposals for socialism differed significantly. Saint-Simon proposed economic planning, scientific administration and the application of modern scientific advancements to the organisation of society. By contrast, Robert Owen proposed the organisation of production and ownership in cooperatives.[41][42]

The term "socialism" is also attributed to Pierre Leroux[43] and to Marie Roch Louis Reybaud in France; and to Robert Owen in Britain who became one of the fathers of the cooperative movement.[44][45]

The modern definition and usage of "socialism" settled by the 1860s, becoming the predominant term among the group of words "co-operative", "mutualist" and "associationist", which had previously been used as synonyms. The term "communism" also fell out of use during this period, despite earlier distinctions between socialism and communism from the 1840s.[46] An early distinction between socialism and communism was that the former aimed to only socialise production while the latter aimed to socialise both production and consumption (in the form of free access to final goods).[47] However, Marxists employed the term "socialism" in place of "communism" by 1888, which had come to be considered an old-fashion synonym for socialism. It was not until 1917 after the Bolshevik Revolution that "socialism" came to refer to a distinct stage between capitalism and communism, introduced by Vladimir Lenin as a means to defend the Bolshevik seizure of power against traditional Marxist criticisms that Russia's productive forces were not sufficiently developed for socialist revolution.[48]

A distinction between "communist" and "socialist" as descriptors of political ideologies arose in 1918 after the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party renamed itself to the All-Russian Communist Party, where communist came to specifically mean socialists who supported the politics and theories of Leninism, Bolshevism and later Marxism–Leninism,[49] although communist parties continued to describe themselves as socialists dedicated to socialism.[50]

The words "socialism" and "communism" eventually accorded with the adherents' and opponents' cultural attitude towards religion. In Christian Europe, communism was believed to be the atheist way of life. In Protestant England, the word "communism" was too culturally and aurally close to the Roman Catholic communion rite, hence English atheists denoted themselves socialists.[51] Friedrich Engels argued that in 1848, at the time when The Communist Manifesto was published, that "socialism was respectable on the continent, while communism was not". The Owenites in England and the Fourierists in France were considered "respectable" socialists, while working-class movements that "proclaimed the necessity of total social change" denoted themselves communists. This latter branch of socialism produced the communist work of Étienne Cabet in France and Wilhelm Weitling in Germany.[52] The British moral philosopher John Stuart Mill also came to advocate a form of economic socialism within a liberal context. In later editions of his Principles of Political Economy (1848), Mill would argue that "as far as economic theory was concerned, there is nothing in principle in economic theory that precludes an economic order based on socialist policies".[53][54] While democrats looked to the Revolutions of 1848 as a democratic revolution, which in the long run ensured liberty, equality and fraternity, Marxists denounced 1848 as a betrayal of working-class ideals by a bourgeoisie indifferent to the legitimate demands of the proletariat.[55]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Sosialisme
Alemannisch: Sozialismus
العربية: اشتراكية
aragonés: Socialismo
অসমীয়া: সমাজবাদ
asturianu: Socialismu
azərbaycanca: Sosializm
تۆرکجه: سوسیالیسم
Bân-lâm-gú: Siā-hōe-chú-gī
башҡортса: Социализм
беларуская: Сацыялізм
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Сацыялізм
भोजपुरी: समाजवाद
български: Социализъм
bosanski: Socijalizam
brezhoneg: Sokialouriezh
буряад: Социализм
català: Socialisme
Чӑвашла: Социализм
čeština: Socialismus
Cymraeg: Sosialaeth
dansk: Socialisme
davvisámegiella: Sosialisma
Deutsch: Sozialismus
eesti: Sotsialism
Ελληνικά: Σοσιαλισμός
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Sozialîsum
español: Socialismo
Esperanto: Socialismo
euskara: Sozialismo
فارسی: سوسیالیسم
Fiji Hindi: Samajwaad
føroyskt: Sosialisma
français: Socialisme
Frysk: Sosjalisme
Gaeilge: Sóisialachas
Gàidhlig: Sòisealachd
galego: Socialismo
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Sa-fi chú-ngi
한국어: 사회주의
հայերեն: Սոցիալիզմ
हिन्दी: समाजवाद
hrvatski: Socijalizam
Ilokano: Sosialismo
বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী: সমাজতন্ত্র
Bahasa Indonesia: Sosialisme
interlingua: Socialismo
íslenska: Sósíalismi
italiano: Socialismo
עברית: סוציאליזם
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಸಮಾಜವಾದ
къарачай-малкъар: Социализм
ქართული: სოციალიზმი
қазақша: Социализм
Kiswahili: Usoshalisti
kurdî: Sosyalîzm
Кыргызча: Социализм
Latina: Socialismus
latviešu: Sociālisms
Lëtzebuergesch: Sozialismus
lietuvių: Socializmas
Limburgs: Socialisme
lingála: Sosialisimɛ
Lingua Franca Nova: Sosialisme
la .lojban.: cemtrusi'o
lumbaart: Socialism
magyar: Szocializmus
मैथिली: समाजवाद
македонски: Социјализам
Malagasy: Sôsialisma
മലയാളം: സോഷ്യലിസം
मराठी: समाजवाद
მარგალური: სოციალიზმი
مازِرونی: سوسیالیسم
Bahasa Melayu: Sosialisme
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Siâ-huôi-ciō-ngiê
Mirandés: Socialismo
монгол: Социализм
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ဆိုရှယ်လစ်ဝါဒ
Nederlands: Socialisme
नेपाली: समाजवाद
नेपाल भाषा: समाजवाद
日本語: 社会主義
norsk: Sosialisme
norsk nynorsk: Sosialisme
occitan: Socialisme
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Sotsializm
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਸਮਾਜਵਾਦ
پنجابی: سوشلزم
Patois: Suoshalizim
Piemontèis: Socialism
Plattdüütsch: Sozialismus
polski: Socjalizm
português: Socialismo
română: Socialism
rumantsch: Socialissem
Runa Simi: Susyalismu
русиньскый: Соціалізм
русский: Социализм
саха тыла: Социализм
Scots: Socialism
shqip: Socializmi
sicilianu: Sucialìsimu
Simple English: Socialism
slovenčina: Socializmus
slovenščina: Socializem
Soomaaliga: Hantiwadaag
کوردی: سۆشیالیزم
српски / srpski: Социјализам
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Socijalizam
suomi: Sosialismi
svenska: Socialism
Tagalog: Sosyalismo
татарча/tatarça: Социализм
Türkçe: Sosyalizm
українська: Соціалізм
vèneto: Sociałismo
Tiếng Việt: Chủ nghĩa xã hội
Võro: Sotsialism
Winaray: Sosyalismo
吴语: 社會主義
ייִדיש: סאציאליזם
粵語: 社會主義
Zazaki: Sosyalizm
žemaitėška: Socēlėzmos
中文: 社会主义