A major feature of the Progressive Movement was the advancement of the relatively new notion that poverty and other social ills were not the fault of the poor themselves, but rather the result of the inadequacies of the laissez-faire capitalist system that had entrenched itself over the course of the Gilded Age. Accordingly, said the progressives, governing institutions should work toward protecting the individual as much as they protected big business. Further, many argued that women were both uniquely affected by structural inequalities and also able to effect positive change via education, voting, etc. How did such beliefs emerge and become entrenched in the period running roughly from 1890–1910? Using the textbook, along with the Margaret Sanger, Marie Jenney Howe, and Jacob Riis readings, discuss the social ills that progressives saw in the city, and the ways that they sought to use institutions—ranging from settlement homes to city administrations—and the unique perspective of urban women, to improve the lives of the poor and vulnerable in society.
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