Distributism is an economic ideology asserting that the world's productive assets should be widely owned rather than concentrated.

Distributism was developed in Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries based upon the principles of Catholic social teaching, especially the teachings of Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Rerum novarum (1891) and Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo anno (1931). Distributism views both capitalism and socialism as equally flawed and exploitative, and it favors economic mechanisms such as small-scale cooperatives and family businesses, and large-scale anti-trust regulations.

Distributism favors the dissolution of the current private bank system, or more specifically its profit-making basis in charging interest and look favorably on credit unions as a preferable alternative to banks.

Distributism would allow most people would be able to earn a living without having to rely on the use of the property of others to do so. Examples of people earning a living in this way would be farmers who own their own land and related machinery, carpenters and plumbers who own their own tools, etc. The "cooperative" approach advances beyond this perspective to recognise that such property and equipment may be "co-owned" by a local Organizational Entity larger than a family, e.g., partners in a business.

Distributism generally implies that property ownership is a fundamental right, and the means of production should be spread as widely as possible, rather than being centralized under the control of the state (state capitalism/state socialism), a few individuals (plutocracy), or corporations (corporatocracy). Distributism, therefore, advocates a society marked by widespread property ownership. Co-operative economist Race Mathews argues that such a system is key to bringing about a just Social contract order.

Distributism was the basis of how many partos of Rural Communities operated until the 1900s. Everybody had a small shop for a farm or some means of owning their livelihood. Having a Job and working for someone else became the norm.

Distributism may often be associated with employee owned business.

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