Socialism and communism are both economic systems (the production, distribution, and use of wealth) that require that goods be owned in common, instead of privately. The difference between the two systems is in the fact that socialism covers a wide range of political systems, including communism, whereas communism is a strict interpretation of socialism. While socialism advocates communal ownership of industry, it does so in two ways: either in the form of state ownership or else in the form of ownership by the workers themselves. Communism, on the other hand, allows for only one form of the communal endeavor: state ownership through a small group of political elite. Communism also goes one step further than socialism in that the Communist state not only controls the economy, but all areas of society. The former Soviet Union is an example of communist theory put into practice.
Further Information: Blackburn, Simon. The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994; Kort, Michael G. Marxism in Power: The Rise and Fall of a Doctrine. Brookfield, Conn.: Millbrook, 1993; Oxford Encyclopedia of World History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.