Social conservatism is a political philosophy and variety of conservatism which places emphasis on traditional power structures over social pluralism. Social conservatism in North America rose in the early 1800s as a reaction to the perceived anti-Christian and anti-constitutional aspects of slavery, as articulated by William Wilberforce and Abraham Lincoln. They also engaged with the economic insecurity of lower-class Protestant Americans, McCarthyism and other challenges to social institutions. Social conservatives often promoted the organisation and politicisation of social issues.
The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (June 2021)
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Sociologist Harry F. Dahms suggests that social conservatism relates to a "commitment" to traditional values concerned with family structures, sexual relations, patriotism, gun ownership and military invasions, describing Christian doctrinal conservatives (anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage) and gun-use conservatives (pro-NRA) as the two domains of ideology within. Social conservatives also value the rights of religious institutions to participate in the public sphere, thus supporting government-religious endorsement and opposing state atheism.