SAAP Annual Meeting 2014

Papers Proceedings »

Jane Addams and Wicked Problems: Putting the Pragmatic Method to Use

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Melioration of most social problems today – problems like health care and environmental justice – require a feminist pragmatist methodology. This is so because many of these problems are not only dynamically complex, but inherently wicked. That is, many of our social problems are characterized by intense disagreement, multiple and conflicting objectives, as well as high levels of uncertainty, variability and risk. Especially relevant to – but ignored by – current wicked problems scholars, I argue early feminist-pragmatist Jane Addams illustrates how the pragmatic method is applicable to these wicked problems by employing this methodology on the ground in confronting the wicked problems of her time (problems like poverty, immigration, women’s rights, and labor reform among others). In the end, I also show how her work provides valuable insights on how to go about tackling these problems in our own time.


Danielle Lake    
Michigan State University
United States


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