How The Other Half Lives By Edward Bellamy

1111 Words5 Pages
Throughout the 1890’s to the 1920’s the Progressive Era was a period of social activism and political reform in the United States. It was also a period of explosive economic growth, fueled by increasing industrial production, a rapid rise in population, and the continued expansion of the consumer market place. The main objective of the progressive movement was illuminating the presence of corruption in government (Foner, 2017). During the 1880’s there were two very influential works published during the earliest moments of the Progressive Era. In the novel “Looking Backward” by Edward Bellamy, the author pinpoints the issues that he himself perceived in the social and economic systems of nineteenth century society. His novel presents an…show more content…
Members of society in the 19th century were enlightened by an industrial system of private capital. Compared to a feudal, agricultural society, an industrial economy based on private capital became a far more efficient means to produce and accumulate wealth (Bellamy, 1996). It allowed the production of cheap, mass-produced goods, so it raised the standard of living. However, the wealth that was produced as a result was placed into the hands of the privileged few. Bellamy expresses his point of view by arguing that an economy based on publicly owned capital would strengthen the characteristics that 19th century society members admired most about their industrial system (Bellamy, 1996). He believed that his ideal society would be more efficient. For example, labor would never be inactive, and supply would far more closely match demand. He argued that the frequent gluts, shortages, strikes, and business failures under an economic system run on competition are immense wastes that would be eliminated under a system based on communal cooperation (Bellamy, 1996).
In “How the Other Half Lives”, Riis wrote his novel to inform members of society of the terrible living conditions of more than half of New York City 's residents. He described the cheap construction of the tenements, the high rents, and the absentee landlords. He protested the city 's ineffectual laws and urged private enterprise to provide
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