Social Darwinism

(1864 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Social Darwinism is a term used to describe the theory, formulated in the late-nineteenth century, that social relations are subject to the process of natural selection described by Charles Darwin. Promoters of social Darwinism argued that the “struggle for existence” which determines survival in the natural world provides the rightful model for human conduct.

The leading proponent of social Darwinism was the English sociologist Herbert Spencer (1820-1903). While Spencer had begun writing on evolution and progression before the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species (1859), the theory of natural selection gave his ideas fresh impetus. In Man Versus the State (1884) and other works, Spencer …

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McLean, Steven. "Social Darwinism". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 28 August 2009
[, accessed 30 September 2016.]

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