Discuss the tensions within Progressivism between the ideals of social justice and the urge for social control.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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From my point of view, I don't really see much in way of tension between Progressivist thinkers and the need for social control.  I see the Progressive thinkers seeking to incorporate more freedom and more voices' inclusion into the political paradigm and discourse.  I am not entirely certain that the drive for social control was such a strong force within the time period's thoughts.  If anything, I think that the desire for social control came from the opposition to Progressive thinkers in the form of those advocating for big businesses and their relationship to the political realm.  For examples, Muckrackers like Sinclair and Tarbell had little problem advocating their case for social justice.  If it came at the cost of social control, I sense that they were fine with such a trade off.  When Sinlcair ends The Jungle with a call for workers' rights, it is almost a call for social control to be damned and the fight for social justice overtaking all.  In this light, the Progressivist thinkers were fairly happy with social justice overriding the need for social control if that was going to result in an affirmation of big business practices and its relationship of collusion with the government.

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