An American pragmatist and feminist, Hull-House founder Jane Addams (1860-1935) came of age in time of increasing tensions and division between segments of the American society, a division that was reflected in debates about educational reform. In the midst of this diversity, Addams saw the profoundly interdependent nature of all social and political interaction, and she aligned her efforts to support, emphasize and increase this interdependence. Education was one of the ways she relied on to overcome class disparity, as well as to increase interaction between classes.
Her horses about the interdependent nature of living in a democracy provided a backdrop for her educational theory. Education, she thought, needed to produce people who were capable of living together and learning from each other (Addams 12-36). Jane Addams, a pragmatist and a utilitarian, spent her life educating others about social reform/care ethics and defending the rights of women in society. Nearly a century before the beginning of “multiculturalism,” Jane Addams put forward her conception of the moral significance of diversity.
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Each member of a democracy, Addams believed was ender a moral obligation to seek out diverse experiences, making a daily effort to confront others’ perspectives. She believed that morality must be seen as a social rather than an individual endeavor and democracy as a way of life rather than merely a basis for laws. Failing this, both democracy and ethics remain sterile, empty concepts (whom. Compose. Com). “The sphere of morals is the sphere of action,” Addams proclaims. It is not enough to believe passively in the innate dignity of all human beings.
Rather, one must work daily to root out racial, gender, class, and other prejudices room personal relationships (Addams 44). ” Women who worked in the marketplace suffered from a number of injustices including colonization harmful to their development in the public arena. Trained to respond first to their “family claims,” women had to respond instead to “social claims” in order to survive in the male-dominated business world. Women were taught to identify with their families to such an extent that they did not organize to defend their rights.
Women weakened their fellow laborers when they limited their female vision to the immediate needs of their families. Addams strongly criticized this: The maternal instinct and family affection is woman’s most holy attribute, but if she enters industrial life, that is not enough. She must supplement her family conscience by a social and an industrial conscience. She must widen her family affection to embrace the children of the community. She is wrecking havoc in the sewing-trades, because with the meager equipment sufficient for family life she has entered industrial life (Addams 57).
Because Addams supported the labor movement and many unions were organized by men and banned women as equal participants, the women’s abort unions in Chicago were organized primarily through Hull-House. In 1892, the cloak makers were organized there, and in 1891, the shirt makers (Addams 58). The Chicago Women’s Trade Union League was also organized there (Addams 59). Union organizing required more than simply providing a setting. The women workers needed to define themselves in relation to the conflicting family and social demands.
The residents, according to Addams, could assist this change in consciousness. They could also help working-class men and women to communicate with one another. The residents felt that teens these men and girls was a deeper gap than the much-talked of “chasm” between the favored and unfavorable classes There was much less difference of any sort between the residents and working-class than between the men and girls of the same trade (Addams 60). Addams’ approach to the methods of settling labor disputes was a dramatic illustration of her belief in feminine values.
She felt that strikes and violence associated with the labor movement were destructive. She believed that men organize for resistance. She stated that, “They may struggle bravely together and destroy that which s harmful, but they cannot build up, associate or unite. They have no common, collective faith. The labor movement in America displays this mark of its youth and immaturity” (Addams 61 In the same tone, she believed that the working class and capitalists were not warring classes, but part of the same democratic society.
The character of American unions was predicted by Addams to be limited and disappointing. She supported the workers’ goals of a shorter workday, increased wages, better industrial and general education, and worker protection in the marketplace, but qualified her support when he wrote that the movement “does not want to lose sight of the end in securing the means, nor assume SUCCeSS, nor even necessarily the beginnings of success, when these first aim are attained (Addams 62). Addams saw the definition of society as warring classes as one that damned society as a whole.
The “literal notion of brotherhood” demanded a beginning of universal kinship: “before this larger vision of life there can be no perception of “sides” and “battle array (Addams 64). Labor unions became, in fact, the tools of capitalists by reducing their talks to single industry issues. Addams clearly did not support the Marxist vision of labor, although she frequently read writers adopting this perspective. As a pragmatist, Addams advocated a number of laws to “protect” the worker, especially women workers, which led to her advocacy of positions far less radical than her long-term goals.
For example, she was against the militant suffragists and their later proposal of the Equal Rights Amendment because of her defense of protective legislation. Her efforts to avoid class distinctions within the movement have also been criticized (Addams 65). While industrialization and communication allowed specialization to increase, this so-called interdependence was based on more financial dependency than on a shared vision of a common national project. Jane Addams wrote; “theoretically, the division of labor makes men more interdependent and human by drawing them together into a unity of purpose. However she continued; “the mere mechanical fact of interdependence amounts to nothing. ” I appreciate Jane Addams and her life pursuit of women’s rights and social reform in America. As a woman growing up in a society which was influenced y her life, her work has infinitely affected my life. I can voice my opinion in a public forum, am guaranteed an equal minimum salary, I can go to the University of Houston and pursue a career, and can do all of this and not be afraid of what society believes. I am really impressed by her opinions of a woman’s views of her ties to a family and how they affect her wanting to be influential in society.
That she does not have to choose one over the other. A woman does not have to be totally against her ties to a family life to be an independent and powerful force in society. For example, a woman’s love for ere children should be extended to society as a community, and that she should be concerned and interested in industrialization. A woman has a compassion and human connection with people that a man could never have. She solely bears a child nine months, and then sees this child grow in her, bears the child and watches the baby grow into an adult. No greater influence in a life exists than a mother.
Jane Addams understood this, and it was evident to me that she saw this as a unique view that should not be kept out of social reform, but should be making important decision in regards to the event. She knew that a woman’s view could profoundly affect social reform on a level that a man could not. She knew that a woman had a duty to be influential in areas Of her life that directly affected her and her ability to be an integral part of a family. Areas such as wages, education, and industrialization were pivotal at that time in her life. What a woman makes affects the quality of life for her family.
The years one studies educational material are important ones and should follow in material and work with the values and goals a mother teaches in the home. The industry is the result of this symbiotic relationship between a woman and society, how the family lives and learns will lead to the rises in industry and the many development that create a level of living to which we grow accustomed. Society is the result of a woman’s influence, therefore for the America during Addams life to ignore a woman’s voice is to a point be hypocritical and to blatantly ignore a woman’s influence. Society cannot exist without a woman’s opinion.
Thus, a society needs a woman’s opinion. I read that Jane Addams did not believe in God, but that she considered social reform her god and the cause her church. This is not only a personally poor decision for Addams, but one that causes her views of women and society to be sold short. As a Christian, influenced in morals and beliefs by my belief in God, I take heart what He says about women and their roles in life. God says that a woman is an equal with man, but that she is inherently compassionate. These two qualifiers place a woman on a playing field with man. Even then, a woman cannot know the completeness of love until she believes in God.
For He is the ultimate definition of love. Because Addams never knew of this love, she could never have a vision for women in society that has yet to be realized. While her convictions for social reform and the cause are noble, they fail to capture the big picture. She knew women were integral to society, she just couldn’t realize how important. In my opinion, God’s love and his desires for women’s role, as that of a supporter and nurturer for man and family are not only the best way to achieve all that a society can achieve, but also the easiest way. Believe man and woman must work together to achieve this societal greater good.
It is only possible with God’s love, a love that ties men and women together in a way that cannot be broken by our imperfect love. This love will produce a society that can work in harmony towards the greater good of the community and all aspects of life. This society didn’t exist in Addams lifetime, nor will it exist in mine; but, this is a goal that we all should hope to achieve. And had Addams pushed for this relationship between the sexes, who knows the leaps and bounds that society and women’s rights could have reached. This idea of a Godly love in society loud hardly be argued against; because, there is no downside.