Darwinism, Social Darwinism
Darwinism is the belief in the theory of evolution by means of natural selection, developed separately by Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace, and subsequently popularized in Darwin's two great works on evolution: the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859) and the Descent of Man (1871). The original version of the theory proposed that, since population numbers remained stable whilst reproduction occurred at a higher than replacement rate, there must be some systematic selective mechanism involved in the process, by which certain individuals perished, while others survived. The mechanism advanced was that of ‘natural selection’, whereby those individuals better suited to their environment survived, whilst others who were less well adapted died. Over time this process would result in species formation. It was not until thirty or so years later that the actual mechanism of heredity-the individual gene -was widely recognized and incorporated into existing theory to inaugurate modern neo-Darwinism.
At the time of its writing, Darwin and Wallace's theory formed just one thread in an existing discourse about evolution more generally, which included the social evolutionism of Herbert Spencer . Many writers on society, influenced by Spencer, eagerly absorbed Darwin's ‘scientific’ theory into their own writings, and it was Spencer himself who coined the phrase (commonly attributed to Darwin) ‘the survival of the fittest’, to explain the historical development of societies. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, in the United States and Britain, there arose a movement based upon the incorporation of notions of survival of the fittest into social theory. The most well-known manifestation of this Social Darwinist movement was eugenics . In its most extreme manifestation, members of the Eugenic Society wrote pamphlets variously advocating the compulsory sterilization or incarceration of large subgroups of the population and selective breeding among the rest, in order to improve the genetic quality of the population as a whole. More recently, Darwinian theory has been a focus of controversy, for certain scientists are now convinced that the slow process of natural selection as Darwin proposed it is insufficient to account for species formation, which (they claim) must arise from some process that operates more rapidly. It is still the case, however, that the vast majority of practising biologists and genetic scientists remain committed neo-Darwinists. See also Gumplowicz, Ludwig; military and militarism.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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  • darwinism — DARWINÍSM s.n. Concepţie evoluţionistă, formulată de naturalistul englez Darwin, care explică originea şi evoluţia speciilor de animale şi de plante prin transformarea treptată a altor specii care au trăit odinioară pe pământ, ca urmare a… …   Dicționar Român

  • Darwinism — Dar win*ism, n. (Biol.) The theory or doctrines put forth by Darwin. See above. Huxley. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Darwinism — Darwinism. См. дарвинизм. (Источник: «Англо русский толковый словарь генетических терминов». Арефьев В.А., Лисовенко Л.А., Москва: Изд во ВНИРО, 1995 г.) …   Молекулярная биология и генетика. Толковый словарь.

  • Darwinism — 1864, from Charles Darwin (1809 1882), whose major works were The Origin of Species (1859) and The Descent of Man (1871) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Darwinism — ► NOUN ▪ the theory of the evolution of species by natural selection, advanced by the English natural historian Charles Darwin (1809 82). DERIVATIVES Darwinian noun & adjective Darwinist noun & adjective …   English terms dictionary

  • Darwinism — [där′win iz΄əm] n. 1. the Darwinian theory 2. adherence to the Darwinian theory Darwinist adj., n. Darwinistic adj …   English World dictionary

  • Darwinism — This article is about concepts called Darwinism. For biological evolution, see evolution. For modern evolutionary theory, see modern evolutionary synthesis. Charles Darwin in 1868 Darwinism is a set of movements and concepts related to ideas of… …   Wikipedia

  • Darwinism — noun Date: 1864 1. a theory of the origin and perpetuation of new species of animals and plants that offspring of a given organism vary, that natural selection favors the survival of some of these variations over others, that new species have… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Darwinism — Darwinist, Darwinite /dahr weuh nuyt /, n., adj. Darwinistic, adj. /dahr weuh niz euhm/, n. the Darwinian theory that species originate by descent, with variation, from parent forms, through the natural selection of those individuals best adapted …   Universalium

  • Darwinism —    Charles Robert Darwin (1809 1882) was born in Shrewsbury, England, where he attended school. His grades were far from distinguished. His father was disgusted and reproved him: You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat catching, and you… …   Dictionary of eponyms

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