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Cultural liberalism is a social philosophy which expresses the social dimension of liberalism and advocates the freedom of individuals to choose whether to conform to cultural norms. In the words of Henry David Thoreau, it is often expressed as the right to "march to the beat of a different drummer".[1] Also known as social liberalism in the United States, cultural progressivism is used in a substantially similar context, although it does not mean exactly the same as cultural liberalism.[2]

In following the harm principle, cultural liberals believe that, for the most part, society should not impose any specific code of behavior and see themselves as defending the moral rights of nonconformists to express their own identity however they see fit as long as they do not harm anyone else.[dubious ] The culture wars in politics are generally disagreements between cultural progressives and cultural conservatives.[3][failed verification] The cultural progressives believe that the structure of one's family and the nature of marriage should be left up to individual decision and argue that as long as one does no harm to others, no lifestyle is inherently better than any other.[citation needed]

Unlike cultural progressives, cultural liberals do not favour political correctness due to its attacks on certain civil rights and liberties such as freedom of speech and religion. In contrast to civil libertarianism, proponents of cultural liberalism will tend to show greater scepticism towards social reforms, such as gun law reforms, that can lead to increased risk of harm compared to that of the views of some civil libertarians.

The United States refers cultural liberalism as social liberalism; however, it is not the same as the broader political ideology known as social liberalism. In the United States, social liberalism describes progressive moral and social values or stances on socio-cultural issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage as opposed to social conservatism. A social conservative or a social liberal in this sense may hold either more conservative or liberal views on fiscal policy.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Thoreau, Henry David (1854). Walden. "Conclusion".
  2. ^ Nancy L. Cohen, ed. (2012). Delirium: The Politics of Sex in America. Catapult. ISBN 9781619020962. When the going got tough, the economic progressives got going back to the Reagan days when the cultural progressives were to blame. Clinton's presidential campaign had "signaled cultural moderation and articulated the pocketbook frustrations of ordinary people," Robert Kuttner, editor of The American Prospect ventured. "But in office he seemed a cultural liberal who failed to produce on economics."
  3. ^ "Article 19 of the 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights'". a resolution adopted in 1948 by the UN General Assembly as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. published by the United Nations General Assembly. 1948. Archived from the original on March 27, 2020. Retrieved July 23, 2010. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
  4. ^ Chideya, Farai (2004). "The Red and the Blue: A Divided America". Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters and Other Selected Essays. Soft Skull Press. pp. 33–46. ISBN 9781932360264.