ADAMS, M.S., 2020. Social Darwinism. IN: Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, 2nd Edition, Forthcoming
Charles Darwin’s work had an important, but complex, impact on social thinking in the nineteenth century. Although the language of evolution was integral to social thought before publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859, social theorists increasingly turned to evolutionary theory to help understand human societies as the significance of Darwin’s contribution to the biological sciences became more apparent. Social Darwinism encompassed a melange of competing ideas, and had appeal across the political spectrum, but it nevertheless became a crucial component of theoretical interventions that were integral to the formation of modern sociology.