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Jane Addams- Social Work Pioneer

Forging a better future for social science in social welfare necessarily involves rethinking the relationship of theory to practice. By the previous trends of twentieth century, Jane Addams was already providing the methodology on the process of social theory that could independently interrelate and collaborate in social practice in procedures that engender appropriate linkages between the two perspectives (Schutlz, 2007 p. 88).

In Addams’s perspective, especially factors pertaining to her idea of reformism, her work establishes a model for thinking about theorizing practice and, in the procedurals, suggests the most possible applications of the theoretical concept (Schram, 2002 p. 33). A better future for social science in social welfare might well best be informed by revisiting Jane Addams as a theorist who was actively involved in practice and as a practitioner whose writings suggested alternative ways of doing theory.

In the process, Addams’s combining of theory and practice points toward important dimensions of a “praxis for the poor” that grows out of a symbiotic relationship between social science research and social welfare politics (Schram, 2002 p. 33). Addams has had their contributions omitted from the early development of sociology or relegated to social work (Schutlz, 2007 p. 88). The study involves the discussion on Jane Addams and her contributions in pioneering social work through housing settlements.

In the discussion, the background and historical context of her contributions are discussed, contribution in the work profession and the implications of social policies that were implicated from her sociological theoretical frameworks that were introduced during her time. Discussion Background and Historical Context Aside from the male bodies in ‘the Chicago School’, there also other groups of women who have participated in the trends of sociological theories, known as the “the Chicago Women’s School”, who were also creating a sociology and sociological theory.

The key Founder of the group was Jane Addams (1860—1935), and the feminine group worked out of two bases, the University of Chicago and Hull House, the settlement founded by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates in 1889 (Ritzer and Goodman, 2004a; cited in Reed, 2006 p. 62). Settlement houses were those that white intellectuals from the elite classes to reside in, implementing and providing adult education classes, facilitating community leadership, establishing Christian role models and advocating celibacy and temperance. These conditions were very much famed during the nineteenth century in Britain and the United States (Schutlz, 2007 p.

88). Feminists, in particular, were keen on these settlements as they enabled them to move out of the constraints of the repressive Victorian household (Reed, 2006 p. 62). Hull House was such a place. In Chicago, Jane Addams championed Hull House for 40 years, and it was America’s most successful settlement. It provided a home for many of the trimale staff at the University of Chicago and for sonic men (Reed, 2006 p. 62). Although, Jane Addams is very much cherished as a pacificst in the United States, a settlement worker, a feminist and a social worker, but not as a sociologist (Delamont, 2003; cited in Reed, 2006 p.

62). Considering her contributions to the society and sociological education, she facilitated education on sociology, became an active member of the American Sociological Association, published even some articles and literatures via the American Journal of Sociology and identified herself as a sociologist (Anderson et. al. , 1997 p. 32). She edited one of the pioneering studies of urban Chicago, Hull House Maps and Papers (1895) (Reed, 2006 p. 62). The women of the Chicago School initiated a development on Chicago especially for those whose intentions was the reform and enhancement of society.

Despite battling intense sex issues and gender discriminations in the university and professional life, the women utilized the sociological principles based on theoretical perspectives, analysis and research to win numerous victories for the rights of women and for the Progressive Movement (Deegan, 1988; cited in Reed, 2006 p. 62). The Chicago women helped lead the fight for women’s suffrage, factory legislation, child labour laws, protection of working women, and aid for dependent mothers and children, better sanitation in the cities, trade unions, and arbitration of labour disputes, minimum wages and minimum wage boards (Anderson et.

al. , 1997 p. 32). Much of what the women fought for became the stuff of New Deal legislation in the 1930s (Reed, 2006 p. 62). Contribution to Social Work Profession From the current stand point of modern social work, the activities of Jane Addams has evidently proven democratic affiliations converged into social environment. Long considered an important figure both in the development of social work as a profession and as an activist for world peace who won the Nobel Prize, Addams was vulnerable—throughout her career up until her death in 1935 and even long thereafter—to a variety of criticisms (Schram, 2002 p.

34). The influence of Jane Addams ideology has greatly impacted the sides of feminist movement and had tremendously played an extreme role in gender issues in society. However, the most essential contribution of Jane Addams proceeds in the twentieth century in the aspect of social work pioneering (Anderson et. al. , 1997 p. 33). Addams was never really taken seriously as a theorist of democracy. She was considered a lowly settlement-house worker who concentrated on practical matters of social work rather than on the grand theories of democracy and social justice.

However, this concept is now changing and being modified as the contributions of Jane Addams becomes evident to the social needs (Schram, 2002 p. 34). The rediscovery of Addams as not only an important activist but also an important theorist raises profound questions regarding the meaning of democratic citizenship, the nature of social justice, the sources of knowledge and power, the relationship of theory to practice, and even the future of social science in social welfare. James Addams promoted and viewed the significance of citizenship in the aspect of attaining democracy (Anderson et.

al. , 1997 p. 33). Addams implied the importance of conceiving citizenship that should manifest and be evident in everyday social relations necessary to sustain life in the immediate and realistic circumstances in which people find themselves (Schram, 2002 p. 34). Democratic justice modifies such abstract standards of justice to account for difference and to allow it to thrive. The role of the “other” in Addams’s feminist theory of democracy highlights how “democratic justice” is better seen as being dependent for its realization (Schram, 2002 p. 34).

Indeed, voluntary initiatives were the essence of social welfare policies and programs in England as well as in the United States in its early days. There are institutions such as charity and other types of non-profit organizations had been deemed as essential component in providing a form of help in the early days of American social welfare (Reisch and Andrew, 2002 p. 41). The first of these was the settlement house movement, which was also initiated in England, starting in London’s Toynbee Hall, which is still currently under operations (Ginsberg and Cribbs, 2005 p.

22). Moreover, the primary figure in this kind of project is Jane Addams, who actually founded the first American settlement in Chicago. At Hull House, Addams and others who became top initiators in both public and voluntary social services provided educational and cultural activities for the disadvantaged individuals – often new immigrants to the United States – including citizenship and English language mentorship (Reisch and Andrew, 2002 p.

41). Moreover, Addams systematized and progressed in the development of her people in their own community to fight for humanitarian rights and their appropriate privileges, often against entrenched elected officials in Chicago. The settlements initiated by these non-profit organizations and by the ideology of Addams had revolutionized the concepts of social welfare and became an important community orchestra (Ginsberg and Cribbs, 2005 p. 22).

Addams and her team also initiated day care and child development programs in order for religious and ethnic organizations, such as the YMCA and YWCA as well as the Jewish Community Centers to utilize such settlements. Hence, the settlement movement became well-known across the country and many other urban communities in the United States began to adopt such service and activities (Reisch and Andrew, 2002 p. 42). They usually implemented in on low—income neighborhoods and worked to change those neighborhoods for the benefit of their residents (Ginsberg and Cribbs, 2005 p. 22).

The residents of the neighborhoods change. The original settlements served groups such as immigrant Jews, Irish, and Italians, who are flow often prosperous and well integrated into American life (Ginsberg and Cribbs, 2005 p. 23). Later groups such as persons from Africa and Asia as well as African Americans from rural areas and immigrants from Latin America became the members of settlements. The community organization, social group work, and social planning movements and methods often trace their fools to settlement houses (Ginsberg and Cribbs, 2005 p. 23). Implications of Social Work Practice

Addams theory of critical pragmatism was based on democracy to ensure social equality, and education as the mechanism to protect that right (Muncy, 1991 p. 56). She drew freely on the central concepts of symbolic interactionism, especially as they were articulated by Mead, Dewey, and Thomas (Deegan, 1988 p. 272). Social interaction based on equal participation for all, however, was stunted and blocked in American cities. As a result of capitalism, immigration, and changes in the home affecting primarily women, children, and the aged, communication and interaction were failing to work for the whole community (Muncy, 1991 p.

56). To resolve these problems, democracy and education needed to be used as tools to improve social institutions, community control, and the vitality of everyday life. In this way, Addams connected the social psychology of symbolic interactionism with the structural problems of city life. The male American pragmatists also shared her view of the social order, but Addams was more radical in her interpretation (Deegan, 1988 p. 272). For her, democracy encompassed three levels: political, social, and economic.

Because political rights were restricted for women, she demanded their full inclusion in the franchise. Social rights could be gained through education which would provide access to full acceptance in a community shaped by its members. Economic rights could be won through militant action such as strikes, but she favored the development of economic equality through nonviolence (Deegan, 1988 p. 272; Dentler, 2002, p. 53). Jane Addam supported the foundation of various political and social trends wherein she even initiated a fair ballot supervision and marketplace free trade.

Democracy was also a central concern for Small, Zeublin, and Henderson. The better two were particularly close to Addams’ programs for action because of their emphasis on British Fabianism. Small and Henderson were both influenced by the German social welfare programs, but Addams was more supportive of the British than the Germanic social policies (Deegan, 1988 p. 272; Dentler, 2002, p. 53). Social workers in the United States gave international leadership in developing a coherent body of knowledge that formed the basis for social work practice (Muncy, 1991 p. 57).

Major displacements of key reform-oriented sociologists occurred as mainstream sociology retreated from social reform, both in Chicago and throughout the United States. Jane Addams was snubbed both by many of her sociological colleagues and by the elites. She responded by moving into the development of the new discipline of social work, Bemis, Zeublin, and Thomas, all eminent reformist members of the early Chicago School, were forced out of the university. By 1918 (during the Red Scare), the only representatives of the early Chicago reformist sociologists remaining were George Herbert Mead and Albion Small (Deegan 1986.

314; Dentler, 2002, p. 53). As per Addam’s perspective, education is the primary subject that is needed to establish the rightful sense of political, managerial, social and appropriate interactive community (Muncy, 1991 p. 57). To Addams, education was a continuous process occurring throughout life. It had the potential to be activated in all situations, and it was the key to responsible action and reflective thought (Deegan, 1988 p. 273). Human intelligence could be brought to its maximum flowering through systematic knowledge, reflection, and analysis.

Addam stressed extensively that education needed to provide concrete information about everyday life. It was to be a tool for people to articulate their goals and needs. It was to create access to cultural ideas and knowledge for all rather than elite (Deegan, 1988 p. 273). She pointed out that the motivation is necessary to attain the rightful positions of balanced and fair society (Muncy, 1991 p. 57). Traditional education was usually irrelevant and designed to interest the middle and upper classes, ignoring the culture, beliefs, and interests of workers and immigrants (Deegan, 1988 p.

273). From the perspective of Jane Addams, the considerations of her being a sociologist mainly resides in the aspect of providing sociological affiliations to the issue of social work and welfare. The perspective of Jane Addams instituted the uncommon rendering of housing settlement for those who are in need, which during that time could have been a major concern in terms of security and fair rights to social community. Of course, from a point of view, providing such social work could have been a very risky decision to make.

From the point of monetary investment, social persuasions and genuine intentions of Jane Addams, the whole aspect of pioneering such social institution came into reality. In some point of view, the concepts of Jane Addams has been literally expanded and are now being utilized by various charitable institutions that offer such social provision. However, is it possible to consider cultural ethics, social atmosphere, values, and/or contract beliefs in implementing such activity in every country?

As with Jane Addams, the sociology of her work did not consider the aspects of cultural, monetary or racial contributions, but merely a genuine interpersonal initiative to provide and initiate a social work for the welfare of her community people; hence, pioneering the social work beliefs and perspectives. Conclusion Addams’s career centered on her association with Hull House, a Chicago settlement house that she refounded and developed into what amounted to a laboratory for social research and an agency for clinical intervention.

Hull House was closely linked and integrated with the University of Chicago network. Jane Addams is the most famous woman associated with the Women’s Chicago School. However, her fame did not reach the borders of the United States. Addams was actually revered as sociologists, while she even identified herself as one. Addams provides us with a basis for suggesting that what is today being called “democratic justice” is a justice contingent upon something other than choosing between the much-debated alternatives of a “politics of edistribution” and a “politics of recognition.” Universalistic justice holds all to the same standards irrespective of the circumstances that affect their ability to meet those standards.


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