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EssayWriting.org ... Free Database ... Sociology
Below you can an extract from a research paper on sociology developed by our writers. With the project you can find the requirements provided by the customer. 

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... Free Sample on Sociology

Topic: Role of women in the United States prior to the 1850's

Requirements:

Discuss the role of women in the United States prior to the 1850's. How did women contribute to the success of the growing U.S. economy prior to 1850? As part of that discussion, define the Cult of True Womanhood in the U.S. and how difficult it was for women to be perceived as workers in U.S. society. Why did increasing numbers of women begin to feel that they were second-class citizens within white society in the US? How did this movement begin? What were its goals? How successful was it prior to the Civil War and why?

Extracts: 

AMERICAN WOMEN: SOCIAL ROLES PRE-1850. 

The public perception that had currency in the 19th century United States reserved for an American woman a status pretty much akin to that maintained by the Victorian epoch in Britain. The Cult of Rue Womanhood is considered to encompass a period of the1820s-1860s, and maintained the four virtues that every good woman must command: piety, purity, submission, and domesticity. According to the advertised belief, woman was an inherently pure creature upon whom God's salvation was bestowed. Woman was supposed to foster this enterprise of salvation by bringing man, who is by nature more sensual and less virtuous, back to God. A woman was supposed to stick with religion, which was the only way toward her own happiness (as also mediated by marriage, until which time she had to observe her innocence) as well as to that of her family. Man is possessed with unlawful desires and will trespass on her citadel of purity and piety, but she has to stand up for that which marks her as a genuine woman. Deviant women were associated with the populace of lower orders, among whom were also ranked all those who questioned these virtuous propositions for a prosperous and orderly social design. 

Defecting patterns were being screened effectively by the public, in that rebels were immediately being condemned as enemies of God. That might or might not involve excommunication, but that did have the denotative potential even in the secular setting. Mavericks were tolerated in art, in science, or for that matter in affairs political. Yet, religious challenges were probably not the right terrain to tread. Ironically, in a volatile society like this one where values were changing rapidly, this pillar of true womanhood was cherished and preserved as the last absolute hallmark of virtue. And of course, woman was supposed to be a chief watchdog. Now, that could be attributed to several reasons. For one, the established social arrangement was such that man acted as the doer and the mover-one who brings about all necessary changes and contributes toward the social progress. A proper womanly role was that of a submissive and cooperative keeper that lent stability to whatever attained and accomplished by man. A woman had a very important part to play on family level, though in society her role was at best limited. Marriage was largely viewed as a necessary and sufficient condition for a woman's happiness, and moreover she was supposed to contribute to the societal prosperity indirectly i.e. by obeying her familial mission. While man was intended to create material well-being, woman carried out auxiliary functions. Along these lines, I would presume that, ironically the grand rethinking that occurred in the 19th century on a number of levels, notably political and scientific, may actually have had mixed implications for the status quo social order. For one, the advent of natural selection in biology and the assault of the classical school on the economics legacy, did act to shatter the staled dogmas. 

The set of religious postulates that had remained intact for centuries, now had to face up to new facts. It is not to claim, however, that the consequences were devastating to all of the traditional institutions. After all, scientific discoveries were as exploding as they were interim, subject to ongoing testing and competitive revision. On the other hand, the growing acceptance of the natural selection notion might, in my opinion, have been perceived as lending merit to whatever institutional and class structure had evolved as optimal. True equality was thus perceived of lesser relevance by the upper classes. Moreover, I would judge that the legacy of Adam Smith (a classical economist advocating that nations could prosper by specializing on what they produce best) might itself have been looked to, in justifying the 'natural' patterns of labor division and social roles between the sexes. Women are best at childbearing and housekeeping, and males are at politics, science, art and industry-it then follows that the reasonable woman will cooperate to secure best performance.

Now, on a household level women's role was well recognized, particularly out West, where they had to put in as many work hours into farming as men. Up North, however, they were denied even this meager chance for recognition. They were in general perceived to be intellectually inferior, and at any rate the good woman was not supposed to let her intellectual pursuits lead her effort away from home and religious duties. Along these lines, it should be clear that prejudice worked as an exceptionally binding albeit informal social institution in its own right. Women and other disadvantaged 'minorities' (in light of the white masculine tyranny of the time) were subjected to a vicious circle of self-fulfilling bias. They could never actualize, because they were denied the chance to. They certainly were proving less educated and bright, because they were receiving very little education. In fact, it wasn't until the Civil War that women began to enroll in universities or colleges, and only when there were not enough male students (who were waging war at the time). 

At the same time, the clergy would increasingly hire women for charity and church duties in their communities. Most assuredly, maverick women that joined the network of fighters for more rights, were frowned upon. To seek freedoms and disobey responsibilities that were recommended by the Scriptures and the Apostles, almost amounted to challenging God's will. However, even though they might not all be deeply religious in their hearts, what they did protest against wasn't Gods will, but rather the arbitrary and misconstrued interpretations thereof. They pointed out that God had made all human beings equal. That must involve the core of minimum reasonable rights like suffrage, which did not become effective until the late 1800s. Lacking this right, the individual actually was an incomplete being, socially neutral or trapped inside a vicious circle of being disadvantage due to being denied rights to exercise control over the political process as well as institutional change. Captured by the favored majority, institutions didn't change because the major potential proponents of change-the disadvantaged members of the society-were blocked. Of course, this self-reinforced property of institutions could not possibly be attributed to the optimizing natural selection, given the sheer asymmetry of the competing or cooperating forces. 

The Revolution could actually be as likely a major turning point early on as it was largely a misnomer. It was intended as strife for liberty and equality, but external sovereignty was long unmatched with genuine internal liberty and equality for that matter. These ideals, again, for the most part pertained to and affected the status of white males, whose effective tyranny was but a successor long to stay. On second thought, the status and societal role of the American women of the time might actually not stand out either geographically or even intertemporally. For one, as I have pointed out elsewhere, this appears to be a consistent trend marking the Victorian England and the Lutheran Germanic/Nordic world. (Consider the 3K continental cult for women: kueche, kinder, kirche). In addition, apparently the ancient Eros vs. Thanatos taxonomy describing male as the creative and propelling force and female as submissive and stabilizing eon, did persist way into the 20th century, notably in the writings by Sigmund Freud and Otto Weininger. 

This analysis, however, reveals only the patterns that prevailed in general, although some exceptional instances of more active roles and full-fledged statuses were recorded even in earlier times. Evidently, the American women did exhibit the four noble virtues, and yet they went beyond in urging for more rights and leeway to be allowed them in order to prove that an even more conducive cooperation and institutional order was attainable and desired. 


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