What Is Social Criticism? Definition, Types and Examples

What Is Social Criticism? Definition, Types and Examples

Social criticism aims to expose and challenge the flaws and inequalities of society. It is a form of commentary or analysis to address societal problems. It involves a critical examination of social structures, norms, values, and practices. Social criticism identifies and critiques the negative aspects. It can take many forms, like literature, art, music, film, and other cultural expressions.

Social criticism focuses on inequality, oppression, and injustice issues. Its main aim is to raise awareness and inspire social change. It involves the use of power dynamics within society. It describes all the ways to marginalise different groups of society. Social criticism contributes to an equitable society by drawing the attention of all people to social problems.

Examples of Social Criticism;

George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”:

The book criticises the rise of totalitarianism and the abuse of power by political elites.

Climate Change Activism:

Climate change activism critiques the exploitation of natural resources by human activity.

Benefits of Social Criticism;

Social criticism has several benefits, including:

Raising awareness:

Social criticism brings attention to ignored social problems and injustices. It helps to educate and understand the challenges within society.

Promoting Social Change:

Social criticism inspires people to take action and advocate for change. The criticism galvanises and creates a sense of urgency around social issues.

Fostering Critical Thinking:

Social criticism encourages critical thinking about existing systems and structures. It helps to create more engaged and informed citizens.

Holding Power Accountable:

Social criticism holds power that is accountable for social actions. It also helps to create transparency and accountability within society.

Creation Of An Equitable Society:

The main goal of Social criticism is to create an equitable society. Social criticism wants a society that is democratic for all levels of justice.

Types of Social Criticism – Examples

There are various types of Social criticism with unique focuses and approaches. The most common types are:

Cultural Criticism:

Cultural criticism involves an analysis of cultural products and practices. The analysis of arts, literature, music, and film is done. It obeys all types of cultural expressions and reveals underlying values and beliefs. It critiques society in light of social and political issues. For example, the feminist movement often uses cultural criticism to examine the representation of women in popular media. Its main purpose is to challenge negative stereotypes.

Political Criticism:

Political criticism involves a critique of society due to different

  • Political systems
  • Policies
  • Institutions

Its main focus is to highlight corruption, authoritarianism, and issues of political elites.

For example, Political criticism challenged the racial segregation laws during the United States Civil Rights Movement. The main aim is to demand greater political representation of Americans from Africa.

Economic criticism:

Economic criticism focuses on economic systems and structures of society. It examines all issues of inequality, poverty, and exploitation.

For example, Marxist theory is based on economic criticism. It involves critiques of capitalism and the distribution of wealth and resources.

Environmental Criticism:

Environmental criticism focuses on human relations with the natural world. It examines issues like climate change, pollution, and natural resources.

For example, environmental activists use social criticism to discuss the impact of human activities on the environment. They demand more sustainable practices.

Intersectional Criticism:

Intersectional criticism takes different ways of oppression and privilege to intersect. This criticism relates to the interaction with each other. It examines issues of race, gender, class, and sexuality. It has multiple forms of oppression and social inequality.

For example, the Black Lives Matter movement is an intersectional form of social criticism. It critiques racism’s intersection with police brutality.

Every type of Social criticism has its unique focus and approach. They share a commitment to the negative aspects of society.

Social Criticism in Literature;

Social criticism in literature exposes challenges and flaws within society through literary works. It performs criticism through novels, poems, and plays. Other forms of criticism include satire, allegory, and realism.

Social criticism in literature explores social, cultural, and political issues. It involves a critique of

  • Status quo
  • The abuse of power
  • The marginalisation of groups

Social Criticism in 18th and 19th Century;

Social criticism is traced back to ancient writers such as Aristotle and Plato. It can work literary to examine political and social issues. The 18th and 19th-century writers (Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Mark Twain) use literature to critique social structures and inequalities. They expose the harsh realities of poverty, oppression, and discrimination.

Social criticism in the 20th Century;

Social criticism became more overt and politically engaged with 20th-century writers (George Orwell, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison). They challenged racism, imperialism, and other forms of social injustice.

Today, Social criticism in literature remains an important tool and examines social issues. The writers (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Arundhati Roy) advocate changes using literature to critique and challenge the status quo.

Examples of Social criticism in literature;

Here are some examples of Social criticism in literature:

“1984” by George Orwell:

This novel is a dystopian satire that critiques totalitarianism and government control. The book depicts a powerful government to monitor citizens’ thoughts and actions. Orwell uses the novel to describe the dangers of government overreach. He argues for the importance of individual autonomy and freedom.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee:

This novel explores issues of race and social inequality among South Americans. The book relates a young girl named Scout Finch, who grows up in a small town. She witnessed the racism and injustice in her community. In the story, a lawyer defends a Black man accused of a crime. Lee critiques racism and prejudice in young girl characters. He showed his rampant against the South Americans during the 1930s.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood:

This novel critiques the oppression of women in a patriarchal society. The book depicts the stripping of women to serve as handmaids or reproductive enslaved people. Atwood critiques women’s subjugation and argues for gender equality and reproductive rights.

“Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison:

This novel explores issues of race and identity in America. The book navigates the complexities of racism and discrimination in society. Ellison uses the novel to critique racism in American society during the mid-20th Century. He argues for the importance of self-determination and individual agency.

“The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck:

This novel explores poverty, class, and social injustice during the Great Depression. The book tells the story of a low-income family from Oklahoma. The family travels to California in search of work and a better life. This novel encounters exploitation and hardship. Steinbeck critiques the inequalities and injustices of capitalism. He argues the importance of social justice and collective action.


Social criticism examines flaws and inequalities within society. It helps to create effective systems to perpetuate social injustice and inequality. Through social criticism, we can work towards an unbiased, equitable, and democratic society for all people.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs);

What is Social criticism?

Social criticism is a form of commentary or analysis to expose and challenge society’s flaws. It can take various forms, including literature, art, and journalism.

What Are The Types Of Social Criticism?

There are several types of Social criticism; constructive criticism, destructive criticism, ethical criticism, and aesthetic criticism.

What Are The Benefits Of Social Criticism?

Social criticism can

  • raise awareness
  • promote social change
  • foster critical thinking
  • hold power accountable
  • create an equitable society

What Is Social Criticism In Literature?

Social criticism in literature analyses literary works such as novels, poems, and plays to expose and challenge societal flaws. It often explores social, cultural, and political issues. It involves a critique of the status quo, the abuse of power, or the marginalisation of certain groups within society.

What Are Some Examples Of Social Criticism In Literature?

Examples of Social criticism in the literature include

  • “1984” by George Orwell
  • “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
  • “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
  • “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison
  • “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck

How Can Social Criticism Lead To Social Change?

Social criticism can lead to social change by raising awareness, inspiring action, challenging the status quo, and promoting critical thinking. Social criticism can help create a more just and equitable society.


Author Bio:

This article is written by Jonathan Naylor, a digital marketing specialist working with The Academic Papers UK since 2013. It is a well-known company to hire the best assignment writing services for all subjects at all academic levels.



BlogsFlu is one of the leading and informative blogging platform, where the user will get information related to various subjects like travel, food, Education, Fashion , Finance, Fitness, health, Tech etc.

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