Sustaining tradition and making a difference: Jane Addams's writing on
Sociology University of Leicester Leicester, UK
The aim of the paper is to present the pioneering contribution of Jane Addams, one of the first female sociologists and one of the only three sociologists who received Nobel Peace Prize, to sociology of memory. The paper analyses The Long Road of Woman's Memory (1917) in which Addams showed the role of the remembering in old women's lives. Addams's innovative thinking about memory's activity as a selective agency in sustaining tradition and facilitating social reorganization brings to our attention memory's important role as a reconciler to life as well as memory's power to challenge existing conventions. While documenting the narrative needs of old women, Addams shows what the weight remembering and forgetting carry in shaping people's lives and documents the power of memory to restore dignity and give life meaning. Addams's appreciation of the importance of the relations between memory and justice is further evidence of her relevance to today's discussion of terms in which the value of memory should be evaluated. Addams's ability to put important issues on the public agenda and her ability to courageously uphold and act upon their core civic values earned her Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. The paper concludes by arguing that Addams's achievements demonstrate what social scientists can offer in the role of public intellectuals and shows what does provide intellectuals with the authority to speak to a non- academic audience.