Law and the Fabric of the Everyday: The Settlement Houses, Sociological Jurisprudence, and the Gendering of Urban Legal Culture
50 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2010
Date Written: June 9, 2006
This article demonstrates that settlement houses at the turn of the century were particularly important and vibrant legal sites, in which women settlement workers played groundbreaking and multiple legal roles. Settlement houses provided a geographical and intellectual space where diverse legal actors participated in analyzing, examining, discussing, popularizing, and reforming law. Through experimentation and confrontation with the lived reality and everyday lives of the poor, settlement workers participated in the creation and practice of sociological jurisprudence. By exploring the specific legal work that settlement workers performed and the legal services that they provided, we can see that under the rubric of philanthropy and social work, women settlement workers were actually practicing law and engaging in a type of jurisprudence which was deeply grounded in the daily life of the home and neighborhood. Simultaneously, however, settlement workers, using the law and state power, engaged in social control often putting immigrant women under intense scrutiny. Through this close analysis of the legal work of settlement houses, this article departs from other legal history narratives that understand sociological jurisprudence as arising from the academy and instead argues that it arose from the ground-up.
Keywords: history, sociological, gender, settlements, law, women, urban
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