We explain what progressivism is, how it originated, and what its objectives are. In addition, its general characteristics, diversity, and criticism.

What is Progressivism?

Progressivism is called the different political, philosophical, social and economic doctrines characterized by a certain political pragmatism and by the defense of the civil rights of equality, freedom and justice , having the indefinite progress of the societies in these matters as north.

In general, progressives are linked to political positions on the left or center-left , but there are also progressives on the right. In any case, the term is the complete opposite of  conservatism .

This term is strongly linked to the struggles of various contemporary social groups such as feminism , sex diversity or ecology , which ensure a continuous state of reforms and openings in the fabric of society to make it more inclusive and democratic.

Characteristics of progressivism :


Progressivism has its origins in the French Revolution of 1789 , in which the French people overthrew the absolutist monarchy and drew up, among other things, the first universal declaration of human rights .

However, the term resurfaced in the framework of the 19th century and its Liberal Revolution to designate the supporters of social change and economic and cultural transformations, against the conservatives who advocated a return to the Old Regime. The term  progressive is currently related to that of reformist.



Its main approach has to do with the need for the State to guarantee equality of social and economic conditions among citizens , so that it is their individual performance and not the inherited benefits that decide their destiny and place in society. Thus, social inequality would be determined only by human effort.


Progressivism pursues a non-religious society , that is, one in which the Church and the spiritual institutions of man exist apart from all political and economic tenor, allowing matters of the State to be the exclusive concern of politicians.



Progressivism aspires to a plurality and diversity in which all social groups and political actors who aspire to make themselves heard in the concert of society, have a place.

This means that progressivism must be democratic and diverse , diverse in its constitution and respectful of equality in its precepts.


Progressivism raises the need for constant changes in society , which promote progress in social, political and economic matters, pushing more and more towards the constitution of an ideal of pluralism and diversity.


Progressivism differs from revolutionary movements in that it aspires to implement formulas and methods that have worked and that can be proven by facts, rather than embracing ideologies or aspiring to the realization of utopias that often offer equality and freedom as separate possibilities.



Progressivism is willing to break with the canons of the established (the  status  quo ) and embrace the new as a value in and of itself. In this sense, it is at the forefront of societies.


There is, however, not a single progressivism, but a set of them. This means that under the same flag can be found, for example:

  • The European “New Left”, not necessarily Marxist, that pursues a secular, liberal, sustainable society with greater public funding for education and health.
  • The different Latin American political currents, often contradictory to each other, ranging from Argentine Peronism to environmental, anti-imperialist, feminist movements, and even Marxist socialism.
  • The left branches of the American Democratic Party, eager for changes in the political and economic, as well as much more avant-garde sectors that aspire to the rupture of the two-party system that exists in the country.

Controversial debates

Controversial debates

Despite its differences, progressivism broadly maintains its interest in some controversial social and political issues, such as:

  • Legalization and regulation of certain drugs such as marijuana.
  • Decriminalization and regulation of prostitution.
  • Decriminalization and regulation of voluntary interruption of pregnancy.
  • Visibility and recognition of ethnic, political, and sex-diverse minorities.
  • Economic regulation that points towards ecologically sustainable development.
  • Equal marriage and protection of same-sex couples.
  • The flexibility of immigration doctrines.

 Criticism of progressivism

Especially from the most conservative sectors, progressivism is criticized for its desire for constant change, which would practically make it a value in itself and not the way to achieve an established goal.

They have also been criticized progressives' certain double standards when assessing violations of human rights regimes left compared to the right.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring to reliable sources and recommendations from technology experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.


MA student of the TransAtlantic Masters program at UNC-Chapel Hill. Political Science with a focus on European Studies. Expressed ideas are open to revision. He not only covers Technical articles but also has skills in the fields of SEO, graphics, web development and coding. .

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