Saturday, March 12, 2011

Women Writers: Annie Marion MacLean

Annie Marion MacLean (ca. 1870 - 1934) was a sociologist and writer who lived at the turn of the century.

She was the first woman to ever earn a master's degree in sociology and the second woman to earn her Ph.D. in sociology.

MacLean was employed by the University of Chicago, where she worked in the Home Study Department as a professor of correspondence courses. Her subjects included Rural Life, Introduction to Social Problems of Industry, Social Technology, Modern Immigration, and History of the Social Reform Movement.

Her work was hampered by her gender, as the universities did not support her work as they might have had she been male. She favored suffrage, was active in philanthropic undertakings, and was a member of numerous committees working for social and civic betterment. She also gave public lectures on sociological subjects.

She believed that democracy was failing because it did not reign in capitalism.

Her work, most of which is available for free reading on google books, are highly accessible. She was a participant observer in that she actually took jobs in department stores and factories in order to experience exactly what workers were undergoing. Her work significantly contributed to many of the safety laws that are in place for workers today.
Some of her publications:
Women Workers and Society (1916)
Wage Earning Women (1910)
Our Neighbors (122)
There are many others if you google her name.
This type of social research is not done today, though I contend that it is necessary. We are so busy sweeping issues under the rug and not dealing with them that things are going unchallenged and unnoticed.
The closest thing I have seen in my lifetime to compare to MacLean's work would be Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich. I recall when this book came out several years ago that there was a massive outcry of "foul" from the right, simply because the book pointed out that no one can live on minimum wage (or less). 
Truth is truth. I am sorry it hurts. But we have a massive underclass of impoverished people in this country, and many of them are female. And there is a small group of wealthy who want to keep it this way, or even make it worse.
We need more writers like MacLean and Ehrenreich to point out the inequities and to offer solutions that work.

1 comment:

  1. I wish I would have become a sociologist. I didn't even know what sociology was until I took a few classes at a community college and then I was like, aha! that's got my name all over it! But by the time I was married and had a child and a business... I was lucky I was able to take a few classes.

    I'm afraid things are going to get worse. The rich corporations are getting more powerful, the middle class is disappearing and the poor are getting poorer. The rich are so tricky--they have the poor fighting amongst themselves and voting against themselves.

    I heard about that book.


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