J is for Jane Addams

| March 25, 2014

In the essay, “The Subjective Necessity for Social Settlements,” Jane Addams describes the purpose of Hull House and other Settlements in producing social change. Hull House was Chicago’s first Settlement, and it was opened by two women who believed that “the mere foothold of a house… would be in itself a serviceable thing for Chicago” (84). Hull House was opened based on the thinking that social classes were dependent on each other. I found Addams’ descriptions of the functions and aims of Hull House to be very interesting. Hull House is self-maintained to keep itself “facile and unencumbered” (91). The services provided by Hull House are voluntary, and the teaching is unpaid. I find this sort of management necessary for this Settlement as its foundation is the thought that urban problems affect all people and that these problems “are not restricted to particular city neighborhoods” (84). If the classes Hull House provided, such as literacy and parenting, were not free, then its very message would be contradictory as those who could afford the fees would be the ones benefiting from the services provided by this Settlement. As Addams states, Hull House is “grounded in a philosophy whose foundation is… the solidarity of the human race” (91). Interaction between all people, despite their respective socio-economic class, is encouraged as they must “grow into a sense of relationship and mutual interests” and “devote themselves to the duties of good citizenship” (91). The bodies within the Settlement define each other in their working towards a common purpose and good.

Meagher, Sharon M., ed. Philosophy and the City: Classic to Contemporary Writings. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2008. Print.