From Liberal to Social Vision of Human Rights: The Innovative Contribution of Socialism to Social and Economic Rights


  • Anselmo Vilanculo Masters candidate in the Peace and Conflict Studies at the Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice, St. Paul’s College University of Manitoba



Social and Economic Rights; Liberalism; Socialism; Human Rights; Universalism and Relativism.


Liberalism and Socialism as well as the contribution of Socialism to Social and Economic Rights (SER) is explored. Enjoyment of Human Rights in different milieus is a result of differences between Liberal and Social understanding and approaches of Human Rights. Liberal approaches founds their roots in the Enlightenment movement and values of nation-state, rights to life, freedom of expression, civil liberty and property. Socialism has its foundations in the Marxist theories. Social relativism and relativism of rights challenges the Liberal universalism of rights. In Socialism, Social and Economic Rights are emphasized. Both Liberalism and Socialism have strengths and weaknesses. As so, the future of Human Rights depends on the combination of approaches, complementarities and synergies, which will result in a multiplicity and plurality of approaches toward Human Rights protection and promotion.


Alviar, G., Klare, K. E., & Williams, L. A. (2015). Social and economic rights in theory and practice: a critical inquiry. Routledge.

Arocena, R. (2020). The Socialism of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. In: Brundenius, C. (eds) Reflections on Socialism in the Twenty-First Century. Springer, Cham.

Blau, J., & Moncada, A. (2005). Human rights: beyond the liberal vision. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Brezhnev, L. (1981). Socialism, democracy and human rights. Leonid Brezhnev’s new book. Soviet Life (Washington), 2.

Bring, O., Mahmoudi, S., Pellet, A., Crawford, J., Koroma, A. (2017). The Notion of Human Rights and the Issue of Cultural Relativism. In The International Legal Order: Current Needs and Possible Responses (pp. 544–558).

Brundenius, C. (2020). Reflections on Socialism in the Twenty-First Century: Facing Market Liberalism, Rising Inequalities and the Environmental Imperative. Springer International Publishing AG.

Charvet, J., & Kaczynska-Nay, E. (2008). The liberal project and human rights: the theory and practice of a new world order. Cambridge University Press.

Cowen, N. (2021). Neoliberal Social Justice: Rawls Unveiled. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.

Davy, U. (2014). How human rights shape social citizenship: on citizenship and the understanding of economic and social rights. Washington University Global Studies Law Review, 13(2), 201.

Eckel, J., & Moyn, S. (2014). The breakthrough: human rights in the 1970s. University of Pennsylvania Press.

Ghodsee, K. (2018). Why women have better sex under socialism: and other arguments for economic independence (First edition.). Nation Books.

Ishay, M. (2007). The human rights reader: major political essays, speeches, and documents from ancient times to the present. (2nd ed.). Routledge.

Langford, M. (2014). Socio-economic rights in South Africa: symbols or substance? (Langford, Ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Lutz-Bachmann, M., & Nascimento, A. (2014). Human rights, human dignity, and cosmopolitan ideals: essays on critical theory and human rights. Ashgate.

Machaj, M & Potocki, K. (2018). Capitalism, socialism and property rights: why market socialism cannot substitute the market. Agenda Publishing Limited.

Messer, E. (1997). Pluralist Approaches to Human Rights. Journal of Anthropological Research, 53(3), 293–317.

Moyn, S. (2010). The last utopia : human rights in history. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Moyn, S. (2018). Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World. Harvard University Press.

Murray, T. (2015). Socio-Economic Rights Versus Social Revolution? Constitution Making in Germany, Mexico and Ireland, 1917–1923. Social & Legal Studies, 24(4), 487–508.

Paul, J. (1981). Introduction: Law, Socialism, and the Human Right to Development in Third World Countries. Review of Socialist Law, 7(1), 235–241.

Schumpeter, J. (2010). Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. In Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1st ed.). Routledge.

Singer, P. (2020). Reflections on Socialism. In: Brundenius, C. (Eds) Reflections on Socialism in the Twenty-First Century. Springer, Cham.

Tomin, Z. (1983). Human Rights and Socialism. Crane Bag, 7(1), 119–121.

Von Platz, J. (2016). Social Cooperation and Basic Economic Rights: A Rawlsian Route to Social Democracy. Journal of Social Philosophy, 47(3), 288–308.

Weitz, D. (2020). The Ernest Gellner Nationalism Lecture: The Soviet Union, self‐determination, and the creation of the postwar human rights system. Nations and Nationalism, 26(2), 297–307.




How to Cite

Vilanculo, A. (2022). From Liberal to Social Vision of Human Rights: The Innovative Contribution of Socialism to Social and Economic Rights. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal, 9(11), 210–220.