This study analyzes anti-prostitution crusades in Chicago during the Progressive Era, using a social constructionist theoretical perspective to explore how crusaders constructed prostitution as a social problem. My multi-faceted theoretical framework drew on both social constructionist theories as well as social movement theories examining collective action frames as master frames. For organizational purposes, the separate analytical chapters examine different groups of crusaders: the crusaders against “white slavery,” those battling “vice,” and a group of Hull House women crusading against the “social evil.” My analyses revealed the following: (1) broader discourses present during the Progressive Era shaped the contours of the crusaders’ claims considerably, but crusaders also often molded these discourses to reflect their particular values, interests, and agendas; (2) the crusaders’ similar and/or differing values and interests—their middle-class values/interests, professional values/interests, gendered values/interests, and religious values/interests—shaped their claims regarding the prostitution problem; (3) the boundary crossing of some crusaders across the demarcated groups of crusaders was reflected by their influence on the other crusaders’ claims; (4) the perceived and/or intended audience shaped the crusaders’ claims; and (5) various master frames permeated the crusaders’ claims, including injustice, social duty, social control, and rights frames. I conclude by considering the following: (1) the reflection within the crusaders’ claims of the internal struggles they faced when constructing the prostitution problem; (2) the utility and limitations of the employed social constructionist and social movement frameworks for historical analyses; and (3) the limitations of my research and suggestions for future research.
Swygart-Hobaugh, A. J. (2004). Constructing the “social evil”: An analysis of anti-prostitution crusades in Progressive-Era Chicago, 1907-1915. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.
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