Utopianism Envisages a perfect world. Generally critical
because it implies that an ideology is based on
hopes and aspirations alone.
Scientism Ideology that claims to be based upon empirical
evidence and objective thinking – the opposite
Fraternity Literally means brotherhood. Used to suggest
that members of the working class have a
common bond as strong as a family link
Social Class A way of dividing society into economic and
social groups. Socialists usually divide on basis
of economic status. Many theorists now say it is
declining as a defining feature of society.
Distributive justice A fair and just principle of how rewards should
be distributed in society
Positive discrimination Giving a positive advantage to groups that have
been discriminated against in order to give
them equality of opportunity. Called affirmative
action in US.
Private property Land that is used in the process of production
(farms, factories, mines etc.). Not to be
confused with private possessions such as
goods we consider our own
Communism A social system based on the abolition of money
and competition. Instead goods are produced
co-operatively and distributed equally.
Revolution A complete (and usually sudden) transformation
of the whole nature of society. Often violent
but can be peaceful.
Revisionism Originally referred to socialist movements
willing to compromise with capitalism. In
modern era refers to any socialist movement
that will compromise on issues of class analysis
and revolutionary socialism.
Social democracy Used in so many ways it has very little meaning
anymore. Meant a form of socialism committed
to using democratic methods and the political
system. Currently implies being a party in the
centre of the political spectrum.
Clause IV Part of the UK Labour party constitution that
contained a commitment to common ownership
of the means of production and redistribution
Third Way Term used to describe New Labour policies after
1992. A path between socialism and neo-
liberalism to social justice
Social exclusion Refers to groups in society that suffer
deprivation in many ways and therefore do not
have the choices and opportunities of the rest
Nationalisation Process of taking large private organisations
into public ownership. They are then run by the
state on behalf of the community as a whole
e.g. trains and phone companies.
Fundamentalism In socialist terms, refers to those traditions that
totally oppose capitalism and are dedicated to
its opposition and destruction.
Bourgeoisie A small class that owned all the means of
production such as factories, workshops etc.
Also includes people who work for the owners
such as managers and government officials
Proletariat The class which is forced to sell their labour for
money ways. Industrial workers.
Surplus Value Capitalists would call it profit but Marx did not
want to use that word. He saw it as portion of a
workers time at work that was taken by the
capitalist and used for their own means
Alienation What happens to workers under a capitalist
system according to Marx (see Marxism for
Voluntarism The idea that people make change and that
historical change is not inevitable but the result
of social movements created by people
Determinism Suggests that we are slaves to the forces of
history and the major historical change is
Democratic centralism Political system developed by Lenin where open
discussion about decisions happened within the
closed political circle. Once a decision was
made discussion was over and the decision was
them imposed on the state