The Woman Movement from the Point of View of Social Consciousness

Introduction

Jessie Taft

Table of Contents | Next

The University of Chicago
The Woman Movement from the Point of View of Social Consciousness

A DISSERTATION

SUBMITTED TO THE FACULTY OF THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF ARTS
AND LITERATURE IN CANDIDACY FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

(DEPARTMENT OF PHILOSOPHY)

BY

JESSIE TAFT

CHICAGO
1915


The Collegiate Press
GEORGE BANTA PUBLISHING COMPANY,
MENASHA, WISCONSIN
1915


NOTE

I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness to Professor James H. Tufts and Professor George H. Mead for their advice and counsel in the writing of this thesis and to Miss Virginia P. Robinson and Miss Margaret Snodgrass for their aid in revising the manuscript.

JESSIE TAFT.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

1. THE REALITY OF THE PROBLEMS REPRESENTED BY THE WOMAN MOVEMENT.

  1. An enumeration of them as both personal and social
  2. Typical interpretations of them by modern writers

II. THE NATURE OF THE PROBLEMS REVEALED IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO THE LARGER SOCIAL SITUATION.

  1. The common basis of labor and woman movements in the conflict between a very complex social order and inadequately socialized selves
  2. A twofold conflict in lives of women, not only that of the incomplete personality and the enlarged social environment, shared equally by men, but also the more obvious conflict affecting women more immediately than men between mediŠval methods, standards, and virtues in the home and modern methods, standards, and virtues in the world

III. A SOCIAL THEORY OF THE SELF AS THE GROUND FOR A SOLUTION OF THE PROBLEMS IN BOTH WOMAN AND LABOR MOVEMENTS.

  1. Implications of a genuinely social theory of self-consciousness
  2. Actual qualitative development of self-consciousness historically
  3. Appearance of socially conscious self and its value for the handling of social problems 48 

IV. CONCLUSION.

  1. Woman and labor movements equally expressions of thwarted impulses for which there is as yet no outlet compatible with the present social order     
  2. Hope of both movements in the possibility of the appearance of a genuine social science as a result of the growing prevalence of the socially conscious person

BIBLIOGRAPHY


( ix)

INTRODUCTION

For the last twenty-five years or more, women, their position and function in the scheme of things, their biological superiority or inferiority, their mental and physical characteristics, their achievements and failures, have been discussed and rediscussed with unflagging interest. Every nook and corner of feminine nature has been brought to light and examined as if woman were a newly discovered species. Yet out of this endless controversy only a very general agreement has been reached. It is fair to say that the majority of intelligent people today are agreed on at least two points: the necessity of improving motherhood and the need of some form of useful work for every woman. But here the agreement ends. As to exactly what conduces to improved motherhood or constitutes the proper kind of useful labor, both masculine and feminine authorities disagree.

In the meantime, while the controversy continues, despite the approval or disapproval of the theorists, women, whether they wish it or no, are necessarily affected by all the changes in education, industry, and government that are in the process of remaking society. Women find themselves as a matter of hard fact in the equivocal position of being neither one thing nor the other, neither in the home nor out of it, neither wholly mediŠval nor wholly modern. The world to which women have been accustomed for centuries and to whose patterns their minds have been shaped is not for the most part the world of the modern man. His world is not only different, it is even hostile and antagonistic in many respects to the world of the woman; so much so that women who attempt to conform to both worlds, as many are compelled to do, find themselves face to face with conflicts so serious and apparently irreconcilable that satisfactory adjustment is often quite impossible on the part of the individual woman. The world outside the home has proved itself so ill suited to women and children, even to the extent of being positively injurious, and the home in its present form has seemed to be so little adapted to the larger world's ideals of trained motherhood, scientific domestic economy, and socialized ethics, that the problems arising from the clashing of the two spheres have grown into great social questions to be handled by society as a whole.

An unprejudiced examination of the actual conditions which the average middle class woman has to meet in adjusting her life to the home and to the man's world gives sufficient evidence of the reality of the problems which are back of the so-called "woman question"


( x) and reveals their intimate connection with every other great social movement of our day. The cry of the uneasy woman[1] is not merely the reprehensible expression of her own personal restlessness. Consciously or unconsciously it voices her share in the protest of the age against the impossible situation in which humanity finds itself today, and her struggles, even though they seem to be but a vain beating against the righteous and inevitable order of things, are a real part of that larger conflict which society as a whole is waging in its effort to combine modern industry and modern individualism.

It is the purpose of this thesis to determine just what are the problems represented by the woman movement, to trace their connection with the larger, more inclusive social problems, and to indicate in a general way the direction from which a solution may be expected.

Notes

  1. Tarbell, The Business of Being a Woman.

Valid HTML 4.01 Strict Valid CSS2