Social liberalism is different from classical liberalism: it thinks the state should address economic and social issues. Examples of problems the state might work on include unemployment, health care, and education. For example, there was no state support for general education in Britain before about 1870. Support for poor people came from private charities, and the church.
A commitment to a fair distribution of wealth and power led gradually (over about a century) to support public services as ways of fairly distributing wealth. Democracy improved by increasing the franchise (the right to vote) to all adults. Some countries which did not have democracy now do have it.
According to social liberalism, the government should also expand civil rights. Under social liberalism, the good of the community is viewed as harmonious with the freedom of the individual. Many parts of the capitalist world have used social liberal policies, especially after World War II.
John Rawls's published a book called "A Theory of Justice" in 1971, he suggested that ‘new liberalism’ is focused upon developing a theory of social justice. This idea of liberalism leads to issues of sharing, equality, and fairness in social and political circumstances. It is controversial because it attacks neoliberalism.
- Howarth, David 2007. What is social liberalism? In Reinventing the state: social liberalism for the 21st century. Duncan Brack, Richard S. Grayson, David Howarth (eds). Politico Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84275-218-0. 
- Ruggiero, Guido De 1959. The history of European liberalism, 155–157.
- Faulks, Keith 1999. Political sociology: a critical introduction. Edinburgh University Press, 7p3
- Rawls J. 1999. A theory of justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Slomp, Hans (2000). European politics into the twenty-first century: integration and division. Westport: Greenwood. ISBN 0275968146.
- Hombach, Bodo (2000). The politics of the new centre. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 9780745624600.