Social democracy is a political ideology that has similar values to socialism, but within a capitalist framework and economy. The ideology is named from democracy where people have a say in government actions and it supports a competitive capitalist economy while also helping people in need by providing healthcare, education and social welfare. This makes it easier for people to support themselves in society by having more protection if they are unemployed or fall into poverty. It has been influenced by socialism, which places an emphasis on equal rights for everyone, and there is plenty of government ownership or regulation of various industries to protect the public interest. The ideology's movement has seen some interest in other countries whose economic systems do not work this way, because it has worked well for those who have it.
Despite a common belief, social democracy is very different from socialism. Social democracy’s policies keep capitalism in place and it is supportive of Keynesian economics, where the government should step in and help people in need or without jobs. Social democracy strives to achieve a balance between capitalism and socialism or a balance between the public sector and private sector in the economy.
Practice versus theory change
Some would argue that neither were capitalist systems empty of help for the poor and the needy. An example is England, where relief for the poor was available in every parish in the land, long before there were any government social services. The practice was known as charity. Also, Britain saw the growth of an important middle class after industrialisation took hold. So it is not completely right to think of such societies as simply composed of owners and workers, or rich and poor.
Social democrats are divided in how they see their theory and it has been a subject of much debate around the world. Terms like "market socialism" and "the third way" are efforts to rethink what social democracy means today.
Related pages change
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