|Type of paper:||Book review|
This book focuses on the works of Jacob Riis in the early eighties and nineties, which mainly focused on talking about the poor living conditions and housing in the slums of New York City. The Journalist did their work by exposing institutions and leaders who were corrupt to the middle and upper classes in New York. Many reforms were done in the working class housing after the publication and even to date. The main aim of this research is to analyze or review the work of Jacob Riis in the book "How the other half lives" and answer the questions that are associated with this book review.
Jacob Riis was both a reformer and a racist. I agree with this statement because he may have advocated for different legislative reforms, but his dark side could also have displayed him as racist. He was seen as a reformer since he mainly advocated on focusing on the poor living conditions and housing in the slums of New York City. Jacob Riis advocated for reforms so that the people living in the slums would have access to better conditions which were well and had higher standards of living (Riis,1957). He was also a racist due to the fact he was seen to have different views on race and ethnicity that would be seen as offensive in today's world. This shows that he had pessimistic opinions about other races, which he viewed from a different perspective. In my own opinion, this statement is contradictory to a greater extent. This is because you cannot advocate for people's rights and reforms and yet at the same time, hold different and contrary views about the people that you are fighting for their rights.
Riis maintained that "the flash" was his weapon against poverty. This was because he would use it to capture pictures of what he needed at the needed time, and this was possible even to take pictures even in the dark. He termed the flash as a weapon against poverty because he was able to go to the slums and take the needed pictures that he would use to eliminate poverty. By doing this, he invaded the privacy of the poor, and some people such as Machiavelli stated that the end justified the means (Riis,1957). He invaded the privacy of the poor because he would visit the slums at night and surprise them with sudden and unannounced use of flash. He just wanted to get the results that he needed by doing anything that was in his power even if it was taking photographs of people in the slums without their knowledge. That was the reason why most of the people saw that the end justified the means.
The book by Riis was a form of muckraking type of journalism which was in the early 20th century, and its main aim was to expose abuses of businesses and the government. The photographs and the sensationalistic tone of the books helped his message, and it delivered the desired messages to those who were concerned (Riis,1957). The photographs displayed the desperate and needy living conditions that the poor and middle people were going through in the slums, and this message was delivered, and the reforms were undertaken. Many changes were done in the working class housing after the publication and even to date.
The book, "How the other half lives" has been used to display different issues that were in the 20th century. In this book, Jacob Riis is seen as both a reformer as well as a racist. Muckraking journalism is also displayed in this book, and this was meant to advocate for the rights of the people living in the slums in poor living conditions.
Riis, J. A., (1957). How the other half lives (p. 35). Sagamore Press.
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