Progressivism is a political philosophy
in support of social reform
. Based on the idea of progress
in which advancements in science
, economic development
and social organization
are vital to the improvement of the human condition
, progressivism became highly significant during the Age of Enlightenment
in Europe, out of the belief that Europe was demonstrating that societies could progress in civility
from uncivilized conditions to civilization through strengthening the basis of empirical knowledge
as the foundation of society.
Enlightenment Phantasies: Cultural Identity in France and Germany, 1750–1914
Cornell University. (2003). p. 157.
Figures of the Enlightenment believed that progress had universal
application to all societies and that these ideas would spread across the world from Europe.
The contemporary common political conception of progressivism emerged from the vast social change
s brought about by industrialization
in the Western world in the late-19th century. Progressives take the view that progress is being stifled by vast economic inequality
between the rich and the poor; minimally regulated ''laissez-faire
with monopolistic corporation
s; and the intense and often violent conflict between those perceived to be privileged
and unprivileged, arguing that measures were needed to address these problems.
The meanings of progressivism have varied over time and from different perspectives. Early-20th century progressivism was tied to eugenics
and the temperance movement
, both of which were promoted in the name of public health and as initiatives toward that goal. Contemporary progressives promote public policies
that they believe will lead to positive social change. In the 21st century, a movement that identifies as progressive is "a social or political movement that aims to represent the interests of ordinary people through political change and the support of government actions".
From the Enlightenment to the Industrial Revolution
identified progress as being a movement away from barbarism
. 18th-century philosopher and political scientist Marquis de Condorcet
predicted that political progress would involve the disappearance of slavery
, the rise of literacy
, the lessening of sex inequality
, prison reform
s which at the time were harsh and the decline of poverty.
or modernization was a key form of the idea of progress as promoted by classical liberals
in the 19th and 20th centuries who called for the rapid modernization of the economy and society to remove the traditional hindrances to free market
s and free movements
In the late 19th century, a political view rose in popularity in the Western world that progress was being stifled by vast economic inequality
between the rich and the poor, minimally regulated ''laissez-faire
with out-of-control monopolistic corporation
s, intense and often violent conflict between capitalists and workers, with a need for measures to address these problems. Progressivism has influenced various political movements. Social liberalism
was influenced by British liberal
philosopher John Stuart Mill
's conception of people being "progressive beings". British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli
developed progressive conservatism
under one-nation Toryism
In France, the space between social revolution
and the socially-conservative
was filled with the emergence of radicalism
which thought that social progress
. Especially anti-clericalism was the dominant influence on the centre-left
in many French- and Romance-speaking countries until the mid 20th-century. In Imperial Germany
, Chancellor Otto von Bismarck
enacted various progressive social welfare
measures out of paternalistic conservative
motivations to distance workers from the socialist movement
of the time and as humane ways to assist in maintaining the Industrial Revolution
In 1891, the Roman Catholic Church
encyclical ''Rerum novarum
'' issued by Pope Leo XIII
condemned the exploitation of labour
and urged support for labour unions
and government regulation
of businesses in the interests of social justice
while upholding the right to property
and criticizing socialism. A Protestant
progressive outlook called the Social Gospel
emerged in North America that focused on challenging economic exploitation and poverty and by the mid-1890s was common in many Protestant theological seminaries in the United States.
Contemporary mainstream political conception
In the United States, progressivism began as an intellectual rebellion against the political philosophy of Constitutionalism
as expressed by John Locke
and the founders of the American Republic
, whereby the authority of government depends on observing limitations on its just powers. What began as a social movement
in the 1890s, grew into a popular political movement
referred to as the Progressive era
; in the 1912 United States presidential election
, all three U.S. presidential candidates claimed to be progressives. While the term ''progressivism'' represent a range of diverse political pressure group
s, not always united, progressives rejected social Darwinism
, believing that the problems society faced such as class warfare
could best be addressed by providing good education, a safe environment and an efficient workplace. Progressives lived mainly in the cities, were college educated and believed that government could be a tool for change. President Theodore Roosevelt
of the Republican Party
and later the Progressive Party
declared that he "always believed that wise progressivism and wise conservatism go hand in hand".
President Woodrow Wilson
was also a member of the American progressive movement within the Democratic Party
. Progressive stances have evolved over time. Imperialism
was a controversial issue within progressivism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly in the United States, where some progressives supported American imperialism
while others opposed it.
In response to World War I
, President Woodrow Wilson
's Fourteen Points
established the concept of national self-determination
and criticized imperialist competition and colonial injustices. These views were supported by anti-imperialists
in areas of the world that were resisting imperial rule.
During the period of acceptance of economic Keynesianism
(1930s–1970s), there was widespread acceptance in many nations of a large role for state intervention
in the economy. With the rise of neoliberalism
and challenges to state interventionist
policies in the 1970s and 1980s, centre-left
progressive movements responded by adopting the Third Way
that emphasized a major role for the market economy
. There have been social democrats
who have called for the social-democratic movement to move past Third Way. Prominent progressive conservative
elements in the British Conservative Party
have criticized neoliberalism.
In the 21st century, progressives continue to favour public policy
that reduces or ameliorates the harmful effects of economic inequality
as well as systemic discrimination
such as institutional racism
; to advocate for environmentally
conscious policies as well as for social safety net
s and workers' rights
; and to oppose the negative externalities
inflicted on the environment and society by monopolies
influence on the democratic process. The unifying theme is to call attention to the negative impacts of current institutions or ways of doing things and to advocate for social progress
, i.e. for positive change as defined by any of several standards such as expansion of democracy
, increased egalitarianism
in the form of economic
and social equality
as well as improved well being of a population. Proponents of social democracy have identified themselves as promoting the progressive cause.
[Henning Meyer, Jonathan Rutherford. The Future of European Social Democracy: Building the Good Society. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. p. 108.]
* Australian Progressives
* Affirmative action
* Centre-left politics
* Democratic socialism
* Green politics
* Left-wing politics
* Jim Anderton's Progressive Party
* Managerial state
* Modern liberalism in the United States
* Progressive conservatism
* Progressive Era
* Progressive Party of Canada
* Progressive Party (United States, 1912)
* Progressive Party (United States, 1924–34)
* Progressive Party (United States, 1948)
* Progressive tax
* Progressivism in the United States
* Radical centrism
* Secular liberalism
* Social democracy
* Transhumanist politics
* Tindall, George
and Shi, David E. ''America: A Narrative History''. W W Norton & Co Inc; Full Sixth edition, 2003. .
* Lakoff, George
. ''Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate''. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2004. .
* Kelleher, William J. ''Progressive Logic: Framing A Unified Field Theory of Values For Progressives''. The Empathic Science Institute, 2005. .
* Kloppenberg, James T.
. ''Uncertain Victory: Social Democracy and Progressivism in European and American Thought, 1870–1920''. Oxford University Press, US, 1988. .
* Link, Arthur S.
and McCormick, Richard L.
. ''Progressivism (American History Series)''. Harlan Davidson, 1983. .
* McGerr, Michael
. ''A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in America, 1870–1920''. 2003.
* Schutz, Aaron''Social Class, Social Action, and Education: The Failure of Progressive Democracy''
Palgrave, Macmillan, 2010. .
* Tröhler, Daniel''Progressivism''
In book: Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Oxford University Press, 2017.
— entry at the ''Encyclopædia Britannica
Category:Sociocultural evolution theory