Democratic Socialism: Definition, Pros & Cons

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  • 0:00 Democratic Socialism Defined
  • 2:13 Pros
  • 3:35 Cons
  • 5:17 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Brianna Whiting

Brianna has a masters of education in educational leadership, a DBA business management, and a BS in animal science.

In this lesson, we will explore democratic socialism, a political ideology that brings together aspects of socialism and democracy. We will look at the pros and the cons of this type of system.

Democratic Socialism Defined

Every day, millions of people head off to work. Sometimes, that work consists of a fancy corporate office adorned with a comfortable executive chair, while other jobs may consist of standing all day on the side of a highway holding up a sign for road construction crews. Both jobs pay in the form of monetary compensation. However, the former generally generates a substantial amount of wealth sitting comfortably in a climate-controlled environment, while the other forces the employee to spend countless hours outdoors on his or her feet and exposed to the elements.

Obviously, those individuals in the extravagant office often make big decisions pertaining to their line of work, while the highway worker probably answers to a boss. But, what if both individuals could make equal decisions about their jobs in a larger sense and about the industry in which they work? What if there was equal ownership among the wealthy corporate executive and the average-waged highway worker? The end product is what a democratic socialism might look like.

So what is democratic socialism? The term refers to the ideology combining a socialist economic system with a democratic political system, whereby the means of production is under social ownership. It holds that society should be more concerned with meeting the needs of the public than providing a select few with large amounts of money. In other words, democratic socialism aims to create a society with less wealth inequality and more relationships that are equal between employees and employers.

Also, democratic socialists believe that production should be commonly controlled by everyone. This means that big corporate bureaucracies should not control society. Rather, economic and social decisions should be made by those that are most affected by them. Social democracy suggests that the way to accomplish this is through regulations and tax incentives. Ideally, these would prompt companies to act in the best interest of the public and navigate away from exporting jobs to low-wage countries and away from environmental pollution.


Let's take a look at some potential benefits of this type of system:

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