Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Social Darwinism is the theory that human beings have a natural tendency to compete and that the strong will overcome the weak. The name comes from its association with Charles Darwin's (1809–1882) biological theories of evolution and natural selection. Like many social theories that attempt to explain human behavior, Social Darwinism can best be seen on a continuum; that is, the application of the ideas in actual practice range between extremes, some well-intentioned and others discriminatory. Generally, the label of “Social Darwinism” is not a positive one, though there have been some prominent defenders and the principles still present themselves in contemporary socioeconomic theory. It is misleading to reduce all of the ideas that were advanced by Charles Darwin to a single theory of “Darwinism.” Through the biological study of humans and other animals, he drew several conclusions, including that organisms in the world are constantly evolving, have descended from ...