Comparing The Views Of William Graham Sumner And Jane Addams

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Social Reform in Early Twentieth Century America Around the turn of the twentieth century, both William Graham Sumner and Jane Addams shared their views on contemporary democracy and society in America. William Graham Sumner shared his view in “What Social Classes Owe to Each Other”, and Jane Addams shared her views in “Democracy and Social Ethics.” Although each had very different perspectives on society through social reform in general as well as how it should move forward, there also is much commonality in their viewpoints on social reform in general. While Sumner chose a scientific perspective, Addams chose a very empathetic approach to the social issues of their time. Despite their opposing viewpoints on how to approach social disparity, …show more content…
This implies the benefactor and beneficiary are, from a democratic perspective, equals. Both believed in preserving the dignity, respect and freedom of choice while striving to improve society as a whole. Again, Sumner and Addams believe this for completely different reasons. Sumner, although he believed in Social Darwinism to a certain extent, he still believed in the successful helping the less successful, but only through a social contract where both are on equal terms, not through obligation or duty. Sumner also believed humans were meant to be confronted with adversity and challenges, but this did not mean that any one person or group should provide for another person or group, but each needs to provide some contribution to the whole. Addams alleged the charity worker, although she offers charity and purpose, is offered the opportunity to learn true self-sacrifice actions through virtue of humility of the social process. Sumner and Addams agreed the benefit of social reform provided individual development and therefore offered improvement of and elevation of society in general, since society comprised of these individuals. Although, Sumner believed freedom of choice to enter into a social contract provided the achievement of individual development for both …show more content…
During this time, various hypotheses had been proposed, tested and rejected both in America as well as throughout the world. The search continued to find best solution to an imbalanced society. Sumner’s social science perspective believed no individual or group owes anything to any other group regardless of their respective level of success. The laws of God and Nature ordained the conditions of life, which include labor and self-denial and no one has a right or claim to anyone else’s efforts. But, as a society everyone’s productivity is needed, therefore a social contract solves the issues of social inequity, by creating a mutual level of agreement between parties. Addams view of social assistance, based on a new hypothesis, began to form containing a mixture of considerations and actions. Within the comparatively new American society, critical components for a successful democratic society as proposed by both Sumner and Addams included freedom of choice, respect and dignity, and everyone working together by choice rather than government mandate to improve individuals, families, and communities through observations, learning and growth as a society. While Sumner prescribed the hypothesis of a developing a society through a social

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