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An economic system in which the state or the people generally own most or all of the means of production. That is, under socialism, industries, agriculture and corporations are nationalized. The government may also manage the nationalized companies, or they may delegate this to a private company. Most socialist systems, however, allow some degree of private enterprise. Because it favors a strong role for the state, socialism should not be confused with Marxism, which holds that the state will eventually disappear.
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socialisma political doctrine that emphasizes the collective ownership of the means of production, ascribing a large role to the state in the running of the economy, with widespread public ownership (NATIONALIZATION) of key industries, although it allows limited scope to market forces. MARX regarded socialism as a transitional stage between the end of a PRIVATE-ENTERPRISE system and the beginnings of COMMUNISM. In practice, the revolutionary, communist form of socialism, which involves abolition of all private property, is limited to only a few countries, such as Cuba. Elsewhere, the main form of economic system is that of the MIXED ECONOMY, which combines elements of democratic socialism and the private-enterprise tradition. See CENTRALLY PLANNED ECONOMY.
Collins Dictionary of Economics, 4th ed. © C. Pass, B. Lowes, L. Davies 2005