Social evolution is a complex and multifaceted topic that has been studied by many scholars throughout history. One of the most prominent thinkers in this field is Herbert Spencer, who believed that social evolution could be understood through the principles of natural selection. In this article, we will explore what Spencer considers essential in the theory of social evolution.

The Principle of Evolution

Spencer believed that all things in the universe, including society, are subject to the principle of evolution. This means that society, like everything else, is constantly changing and evolving over time.

According to Spencer, evolution is driven by two forces: differentiation and integration. Differentiation refers to the process by which different elements within a system become more specialized over time. Integration refers to the process by which different specialized elements come together to form a more complex whole.

The Survival of the Fittest

Spencer also believed that society evolves through a process of natural selection, much like living organisms do. In this process, those societies that are better adapted to their environment are more likely to survive and reproduce than those that are less well adapted. This principle is often referred to as “the survival of the fittest.”

The Division of Labor

According to Spencer, one of the key ways in which societies become more complex over time is through the division of labor. As societies grow and become more specialized, individuals within those societies begin to specialize as well. This specialization allows for greater efficiency and productivity within society.

Individualism vs Collectivism

Spencer also believed in individualism over collectivism. He argued that individuals should be free to pursue their own interests without interference from others or from society as a whole. He saw individualism as an essential component of social evolution because it allows for greater diversity and innovation within society.


Finally, Spencer believed in the concept of self-organization. He argued that complex systems, including society, have a tendency to organize themselves without the need for external intervention. In other words, Spencer believed that society has a natural tendency towards order and organization.


In conclusion, Herbert Spencer’s theory of social evolution is based on the principles of natural selection, differentiation and integration, the survival of the fittest, the division of labor, individualism over collectivism, and self-organization. While his ideas have been criticized by some scholars, they continue to be influential in the field of social evolution and provide a valuable framework for understanding how societies change and evolve over time.