Definition of social imperialism in US English:

social imperialism


  • 1Chiefly in the phraseology of communism and socialism: advocacy of imperialist foreign policy while claiming to support socialism.

  • 2Specifically. Socialist policies used to disguise imperialist ambitions. Now historical.

  • 3Politics. A combination of an imperialist foreign policy and programmes of social reform, frequently introduced in order to quell internal social upheaval.


Early 20th century; earliest use found in Communist. From social + imperialism. In sense 1a probably after Russian social-imperializm; compare slightly earlier social imperialist.


social imperialism

/ˌsəʊʃl ɪmˈpɪərɪəlɪz(ə)m/