Social Darwinism : Meaning, Origin and Regional Distribution

Social Darwinism is the collection of various theories and perspective that was evolved during the 19th century for the selection of human, popularly known as Survival of the fittest. This term coined major popularity by the ones who were against these theories. They were not in the favor of being called themselves by any label, whereas many scholars thought that it is the gradual process of society in which there is the formation of the normal and complex phenomenon under the theory.

social darwinism


The origin of Social Darwinism was during the late 19th and early 20th century by Charles Darwin. According to his theory on plants and animals, the weak section was meant to be diminished by the strong and influential forces. Adding to it, British philosopher and scientist Herbert Spencer coined the famous phrase “Survival of the fittest.” This theory favored class stratification as it helped in empowering land and power division. Spencer started making this theory popular as the government of White European was superior to other parts of the country or say the world. Although many were against this, and they argued the many welfare programs are arranged for the poor so that they can nurture themselves. Many philosophers were in fear that this theory is indeed a dangerous philosophy because of the reasons were given by Nazi. For example, the deaths of many people in World War-II were presented as the removal of the weak section of the society. The group killing or say murders done by Hitler was also supported by Darwinism theory.

This theory faced much criticism. As stated by The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Political States.

“Survival of the fittest was coined for animals and plants; it becomes hard to apply it to human beings. Also, it is more likely to come across as local imperialism.

Many biologists and historians have claimed that the theory was built for nature and plants. It should not be used in a human race. Darwin’s theory was for nature and he never tried to emerge his theories on society in any aspect. Indeed Spencer used loosely and invalid information for his country benefit. It was evident how Survival of the fittest was becoming Kill or to be killed, leaving common senses behind.

But there were instances where survival of the fittest or Darwinist theory got along. For example, the British Empire in many countries went well with this theory. This theory stood tall for the statement that weaker race has to be diminished. Later on, it was revised as the virtues of our civilization.


It becomes equally important to see what the effect of this theory on various countries was.

United States

Herbert Spencer was well-known figure and that time due to the dominance they attained the maximum position in the world.


This theory affected social, health and economic condition of the country since the late 19th century. As Japan wanted to have relations with the west, it also accepted he Darwinism theory and people were given ranks on the basis of this theory.


Germany adopted this theory in 1860’s where clergy and nobility were combined and thus a new social era was observed. But Darwin claimed the relation between evolution and socialism on the basis of natural selection as a foolish idea.

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