What is the difference between Social Darwinism and Social Gospel?

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Social Darwinism and the Social Gospel both emerged in the late-nineteenth century and are two very different concepts.

Herbert Spencer, an intellectual-turned-philosopher, created much of the theory of Social Darwinism. He coined the term "survival of the fittest," which is not in Darwin's work. Spencer took Darwin's theory of evolution—in which Darwin argued that the most able species survived (by which Darwin meant the species most able to reproduce successfully) and the less able died out—and adapted it in ways Darwin never intended.

In Social Darwinism, the most fit people survive in a ruthless struggle for resources and reach the pinnacle of society while the less fit become the poor. It discounts pre-existing social structures and places responsibility for a person's social status completely on the individual; those who rise to top have demonstrated by that rise that they are superior people and deserve what they have. This ignores accidents of birth, such as having wealthy or...

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on October 29, 2019
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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on October 29, 2019