In the field of sociology, one prominent theory that often comes up for discussion is Herbert Spencer’s theory. Spencer’s theory is often referred to as Social Darwinism.

But why exactly is it called Social Darwinian? Let’s delve into the reasons behind this name.

The Origins of Social Darwinism

Social Darwinism emerged in the 19th century as an attempt to apply Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection to society. Darwin’s theory proposed that species evolve over time through a process of adaptation and survival of the fittest.

Spencer, a British philosopher, borrowed from Darwin’s ideas and applied them to human society. He believed that just as species compete for resources, so do individuals and social groups within society.

The Survival of the Fittest

At the core of Spencer’s theory is the concept of “survival of the fittest.” According to him, societies progress and evolve as individuals and social groups compete against each other for resources, wealth, and power.

Spencer viewed competition as a driving force behind progress and saw it as essential for societal development.

Competition in Society

Spencer argued that competition in society ensures that only the most capable individuals or groups survive and thrive. Those who possess advantageous traits or skills are more likely to succeed and pass on their traits to future generations.

Criticism and Controversy

Despite its initial popularity, Spencer’s theory received significant criticism and sparked controversy.

Many argued that Social Darwinism justified social inequality and favored the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the less fortunate. The theory was seen by some as an excuse to neglect social responsibilities and perpetuate unfair systems.

Moreover, critics pointed out that society is far more complex than a simple survival-of-the-fittest scenario. Factors such as privilege, discrimination, and historical disadvantages can significantly impact an individual’s chances of success.

Legacy and Impact

While Spencer’s theory has largely fallen out of favor in contemporary sociology, it had a lasting impact on the field. Social Darwinism paved the way for further discussions on social inequality, competition, and the role of government in society.

It also sparked debates about ethics, morality, and the responsibilities we have towards each other as members of a society.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, Herbert Spencer’s theory is called Social Darwinism because it draws inspiration from Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. It emphasizes competition in society as a means for progress and development.

However, it has faced considerable criticism for justifying inequality and neglecting social responsibilities. Despite its controversies, Social Darwinism has left a lasting impact on sociological discourse.