What evidence is there to show that progressivism was an attempt at social control by self-important, moralistic busybodies?
The main evidence that shows this is the fact that many progressive reforms were aimed at trying to get people to behave in ways that middle-class progressives would approve of. There were efforts against juvenile delinquency and against prostitution. There were settlement houses that tried to teach poor and immigrant women to become cultured and to raise their children the "right" way. Above all, there was the temperance movement. This movement, which culminated in the passage of Prohibition, focused on ensuring that men would not go and get drunk in saloons. It was motivated in part by the desire to control the behavior of immigrants. These pieces of evidence can be used to argue that progressivism was at least partly about social control.