It’s the birthday of activist Jane Addams (books by this author), born in Cedarville, Illinois (1860). She is probably best known as the founder of Hull House, a settlement house in Chicago. Her work as a social activist earned her the first Nobel Peace Prize awarded to a woman, in 1931. She was also a philosopher, in the same school of Pragmatism made famous by the likes of William James and John Dewey. She published 500 articles and wrote more than 10 books, including Democracy and Social Ethics (1902), Peace and Bread in Time of War (1922), and The Excellent Becomes the Permanent (1932). Just as James and Dewey looked at the practical outcome of an idea and tried to get beyond artificial divides in theory, Jane Addams focused her philosophy on the practical outcomes of social work in society and tried to develop theories that would be as inclusive as possible.
In Democracy and Social Ethics (1902), she wrote: “Action is indeed the sole medium of expression for ethics. We continually forget that the sphere of morals is the sphere of action, that speculation in regard to morality is but observation and must remain in the sphere of intellectual comment, that a situation does not really become moral until we are confronted with the question of what shall be done in a concrete case, and are obliged to act upon our theory.”
This is the blog for the sociology classes of Prof. Richard Hudak (Endicott College, the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Merrimack College).
When I started this blog, I had been enjoying a lot of the TV series “The Ghost Whisperer” in reruns. In imagining what it might be like to talk to the dead, I began to muse that sociologists, too, were weird to the average person, and “have a gift” of being able to see the hand of social structure in everyday life. The Sociological Imagination is what makes us “special” or at least distinctive.
But this is not a gift we have inherited, like Melinda Gordon of the TV series. Rather it is one that has been bequeathed to us by teachers before.
For the past few years I have shared with my students a variety of internet content related to sociology. This is a more systematic effort to do so, and to give students the opportunity to create their own posts as well. Welcome to “The Structure Whisperer.”