Status quo or Statu quo is a Latin phrase meaning the existing state of affairs, particularly with regard to social or political issues. In the sociological sense, it generally applies to maintaining or changing existing social structure and/or values. With regard to policy debate, it means how conditions are, inviting a good or bad analysis of them, for example "The countries are now trying to maintain a status quo with regards to their nuclear arsenal which will help them if the situation gets any worse."
To maintain the status quo is to keep things the way they presently are. The related phrase status quo ante, literally "the state in which before", emphasises "the state of affairs that existed" (previously).
Via social movements the status quo might be overhauled. These seek to alleviate or prevent a particular issue and often to shape social feeling and cultural expression of a society or nation. The status quo is at least in part rejected by their protagonists – progressives – leading the movement.
Advocating to improve the status quo is a persuasive rhetorical device. This is sometimes critiqued as a policy of deliberate ambiguity as not formalizing or defining the adverse situation.
In democratic meetings, a casting vote will often be subject to a custom that is cast per the status quo, the heart of Speaker Denison's rule. Clark Kerr reportedly said: "The status quo is the only solution that cannot be vetoed".
Karl Marx viewed organized religion as a means for the bourgeoisie to keep the proletariat content with an unequal status quo.