More often, in conversation and in media, the concepts of Socialism and Communism are used interchangeably to mean essentially the same political/economical philosophy. Although they have some similarities, they also have very stark differences.
First, both philosophies arose from the Industrial Revolution and mainly as a response to the period when business owners were becoming very wealthy by abusing their workers. Second, both are built on the grounds that individuals’ contribution to the society is based on their own ability. Finally, in both, governments play a big role in economic planning and investment, either in decentralized or centralized form.
In Communism, people are compensated based on their needs in terms of clothing, accommodation, and food. On the other hand, in Socialism people are compensated based on their contributions, so that individuals that work smarter or harder would get more in terms of how smart or hard. In addition, Communism abolishes any religion whereas Socialism allows freedom of religion. Another key difference is that Communism eliminates class differences while in Socialism, the class distinction still exists.
China, Cuba, The Soviet Union, North Korea and Vietnam are examples of Communist states. However, they have never achieved a structure that is purely communist. Some of the communist policies include the elimination of class system and the abolition of money. Similarly, Socialism in Sweden, France, Norway and Canada has never been totally adopted. Some of the socialist policies include a dominant government role in various shared services and free health care.