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Social conservatism is a political philosophy and variety of conservatism which places emphasis on traditional power structures over social pluralism. Social conservatives organize in favor of duty, traditional values and social institutions, such as traditional family structures, gender roles, sexual relations, national patriotism, and religious traditions. Social conservatism is usually skeptical of social change, instead tending to support the status quo concerning social issues.
Social conservatives also value the rights of religious institutions to participate in the public sphere, thus often supporting government-religious endorsement and opposing state atheism, and in some cases opposing secularism.
There is overlap between social conservatism and paleoconservatism, in that they both support and value traditional social forms.[self-published source]
Social conservatism is not to be confused with economically interventionist conservatism, where conservative ideas are combined with Keynesian economics and a welfare state as practised by some European conservatives (e.g. one-nation conservatives in the United Kingdom, Gaullists in France). Some social conservatives support free trade and laissez faire market approaches to economic and fiscal issues, but social conservatives may also support economic intervention where the intervention serves moral or cultural aims. Historian Jon Wiener has described social conservatism as historically the result of an appeal from "elitist preservationists" to lower-class workers to 'protect' wealth from immigration. Many social conservatives support a balance between protectionism and a free market. This concern for material welfare, like advocacy of traditional mores, will often have a basis in religion. Examples include the Christian Social Union of Bavaria, the Family First Party and Katter's Australian Party, and the communitarian movement in the United States.
Main article: Social conservatism in Canada
In Canada, social conservatism, though widespread, is not as prominent in the public sphere as in the United States. It is prevalent in all areas of the country but is seen as being more prominent in rural areas. It is also a significant influence on the ideological and political culture of the western provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia.
Compared to social conservatism in the United States, social conservatism has not been as influential in Canada. The main reason is that the neoconservative style of politics as promoted by leaders such as former Prime Ministers such as Paul Martin and Stephen Harper have focused on fiscal conservatism, with little or no emphasis on moral or social conservatism. Without a specific, large political party behind them, social conservatives have divided their votes and can be found in all political parties.
Social conservatives often felt that they were being sidelined by officials in the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and its leadership of so-called "Red Tories" for the last half of the twentieth century and therefore many eventually made their political home with parties such as the Social Credit Party of Canada and the Reform Party of Canada. Despite the Reform Party being dominated by social conservatives, leader Preston Manning, seeking greater national support for the party, was reluctant for the party to wholly embrace socially conservative values. This led to his deposition as leader of the party (now called Canadian Alliance) in favor of social conservative Stockwell Day. The party's successor, the Conservative Party of Canada, despite having a number of socially conservative members and cabinet ministers, has chosen so far not to focus on socially conservative issues in its platform. This was most recently exemplified on two occasions in 2012 when the current Conservative Party of Canada declared they had no intention to repeal same-sex marriage or abortion laws.
Further information: Sharia and Conservatism in Islam
Most Muslim countries are somewhat more socially conservative (such as Tajikistan and Malaysia) than neighbouring countries that are not Muslim. However, due to their interpretation of Islamic law also known as Shariah, they have some differences from social conservatism as understood in the nations of West Europe, North America and Oceania.
Further information: Arab world, Islam, and Censorship
The Arab world has recently[when?] been more conservative in social and moral issues due to the Arab spring.
Further information: Shiv Sena, Bharatiya Janata Party, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Hindu nationalism, and Hindutva
Hindu social conservatism in India in the twenty first century has developed into an influential movement. Represented in the political arena by the right-leaning Bharatiya Janata Party. Hindu social conservatism, also known as the Hindutva movement, is spearheaded by the voluntary non-governmental organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The core philosophy of this ideology is nativism and sees Hinduism as a national identity rather than a religious one. Due to an inclination towards nativism, much of its platform is based on the belief that Islamic and Christian denominations in India are the result of occupations, and therefore these groups should be uprooted from the Indian subcontinent by converting their members back to Hinduism.
In terms of political positions, Hindu social conservatives in India seek to institutionalise a Uniform Civil Code (which is also a directive under Article 44 of the Constitution of India) for members of all religions, over the current scheme of different personal laws for different religions. For instance, polygamy is legal for Muslims in India but not Hindus.
Further information: Lakshar-e-Taiba
There are several socially conservative Muslim organisations in India, ranging from groups such as the Indian Union Muslim League which aim to promote the preservation of Indian Muslim culture as a part of the nation's identity and history.
Social conservatism had an important place in Apartheid South Africa ruled by the National Party. Pornography, gambling and other activities that were deemed undesirable were severely restricted. The majority of businesses were forbidden from doing business on Sunday.
Main article: Social conservatism in the United States
Social conservatism in the United States is a right-wing political ideology that opposes social progressivism. It is centered on the preservation of what adherents often call 'traditional' or 'family values', though the accepted aims of the movement often vary amongst the organisations it comprises, making it hard to generalise about ideological preferences. There are, however, a number of general principles to which at least a majority of social conservatives adhere, such as opposition to abortion and opposition to same-sex marriage. Sociologist Harry F. Dahms suggests that Christian doctrinal conservatives (anti-abortion, anti-same-sex marriage) and gun-use conservatives (such as supporters and members of the National Rifle Association of America (NRA)) form two domains of ideology within American social conservatism.
The Republican Party is the largest United States political party with socially conservative ideals incorporated into its platform. Other socially conservative parties include the American Solidarity Party, the Constitution Party and the Prohibition Party.
Social conservatives are strongest in the South, where they are a mainstream political force with aspirations to translate those ideals using the party platform nationally. Supporters of social conservatism played a major role in the political coalitions of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.
There are also social conservative movements in many other parts of the world, such as Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Europe, Mediterranean countries, Southeast Asia, and Oceania.
Social conservatism often opposes state-atheism, however not necessarily atheism itself. They believe that if we allow states to stop believing in God, that societal order will simply break down as a result.
... Because of this political strength, the Liberal Democratic Party has in recent years included the moderate to socially conservative Komeito Party in coalition governments.