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In political and economic discourse, socialization refers to the process of transforming an activity into a social relationship. Socialization of production and labor is a phenomenon that takes place under capitalism due to centralization of capital and in industries where there are increasing returns to scale, eventually leading to a situation where socialization of output (or surplus value) and ownership of the means of production is necessitated. Socialization of surplus output(profit) and ownership is one aspect of transitioning from capitalism to socialism.[1]



Socialization of the workplace is contrasted to rigid hierarchy and bureaucracy, as workers gain more autonomy, collective decision-making power and control over the output they produce in a socialized work environment. Socialization of industry is distinct from nationalization, which can, but usually does not imply the socialization of the workplace; socialization of industry can take place in private or cooperative-owned enterprises. In a capitalist economy, socialization entails "commodification" and is therefore limited.[2] Socialization therefore takes different a different form in the capitalist mode of production than in the socialist mode of production.

Misuse of the term

Particularly in the United States, the term "socialization" has been mistakenly used to refer to any state or government-owned industry or service, and has also been applied to any tax-funded programs, whether privately-run or government-run. The term "socialized" is usually used in a pejorative sense, most commonly in reference to publicly-funded health care programs (See: socialized medicine)[3].

It is important to note that in classical socialist terminology, publicly-funded or even state-run, universal healthcare services would not constitute a "socialized" industry because the employees and workers do not own their means of production and manage the service in a cooperative fashion. Furthermore, a majority of universal healthcare programs are simply publicly-subsidized privately owned capitalist health care and pharmaceutical firms.

See Also


  1. ^ Capital, Volume 1, by Marx, Karl. From "Chapter 32: Historical Tendency of Capitalist Accumulation": "Self-earned private property, that is based, so to say, on the fusing together of the isolated, independent laboring-individual with the conditions of his labor, is supplanted by capitalistic private property, which rests on exploitation of the nominally free labor of others, i.e., on wage-labor. As soon as this process of transformation has sufficiently decomposed the old society from top to bottom, as soon as the laborers are turned into proletarians, their means of labor into capital, as soon as the capitalist mode of production stands on its own feet, then the further socialization of labor and further transformation of the land and other means of production into socially exploited and, therefore, common means of production, as well as the further expropriation of private proprietors, takes a new form. That which is now to be expropriated is no longer the laborer working for himself, but the capitalist exploiting many laborers."
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Dorland's Medical Dictionary". 


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