The Progressive Movement: Impact on the Government and Society

Paper Info
Page count 4
Word count 1105
Read time 4 min
Topic History
Type Research Paper
Language 🇺🇸 US


All societies need to review their progress periodically to establish their achievements, activities, and evolution. The periodical inventories are instrumental in ensuring the people understand their action failures and success and the impact on their political and socio-economic progress (Rodgers, 2019). A review of the past movements and major events can help the public and the leadership think about what needs to be done to create a society with fewer problems. For instance, the citizens in any given country have a mandate to continually reform the human conditions and create solutions that can propel them to a perfect society. Change within a country is inevitable, making it crucial for the leaders to embrace transformations both radical and gradual in their work (Rodgers, 2019). This essay will examine the impact the Progressive Movement had on American politics, government, society, and the economy, considering it sought to remedy deficiencies in the United States through concerted reforms targeting the people.

Overview of the Progressive Era

The progressives were driven by the desire to transform society through the use of science and technology. Changing the society entailed a review of the role the state and big businesses played in the people’s welfare (Rodgers, 2019). For example, progressivism focused on the issues affecting individuals’ social mobility by addressing problems caused by initiatives, such as industrialization, immigration, and rampant political corruption. The proponents of the Progressive Movements were driven by the desire to entrench direct democracy, ensuring the citizens felt involved in the day’s governance structures (Rodgers, 2019). The Progressive Movement desired to establish a nation where the general public could hold the political leadership accountable by improving government activities’ transparency.

Influence of Progressive Movement on Politics

Progressivism was meant to further social and political change within the United States. The proponents and supporters of the Progressive Movement held the belief that the political establishment was corrupt, making it crucial to change the country’s political leadership (Novak, 2019). Progressives sought to have the people get more power and become involved in the country’s running through the enforcement of initiatives, such as referendums. The referendums made it possible for the people to make changes in how they are governed and pass laws without involving the legislature. In mitigating the rampant political corruption, the Progressive Movement’s supporters sought to enact the recall initiative, making it possible to remove nonperforming or corrupt leaders (Rodgers, 2019). The initiatives spearheaded by the Progressive Movement have significantly impacted society, considering they empowered the people.

During the Progressive Movement, the citizens became active participants in governance since they could initiate legislation and deal proactively with corrupt officials. For instance, recall and the removal of public officials, such as politicians, help ensure that citizens do not have to wait for the electoral cycle to ouster an underperforming individual (Novak, 2019). The referendum has become an essential governance tool, which the people can use to legislate on crucial issues that affect society. The public at the state level has used the referendum to enact legislation, which is contentious and requires a change in the Constitution. For example, the popular initiative has been used in California to enact laws on crime and the use of recreational marijuana. The push for direct primaries in elections helped ensure that the exercise reflected the people’s will (Rodgers, 2019). The citizens’ involvement in the nomination process reduced the incidence of corruption in the process, considering machines and the wealthy had controlled it.

Influence of Progressivism on the Society

The progressives believed that the family was the primary tenet of American society. During the Progressive Movement, various governments, such as municipal authorities, were tasked with enhancing the family’s status (Novak, 2019). The women were encouraged to take jobs and air their concerns publicly, with the “troubled” teenagers expected to undergo reform and not adult prison. The changes in the work environment, education, activism, and family structure had a far-reaching impact on American society (Rodgers, 2019). For example, the adults’ work hours were reduced, ensuring parents could get more time together with their children. Empowering women paved the way for activism focusing on women-based issues, such as the Suffrage Movement, which would see women get the right to vote. The perception of morality within the society changed drastically, considering the formulation and adoption of the Volstead Act of 1919 (Novak, 2019). The legislation was instrumental in prohibiting the manufacture, sale, importation, and exportation of alcohol.

Impact of the Progressive Movement on the Government

The Progressive Era paved the way for the transformation of government operations. The progressives believed that the government should serve the people, making it crucial to improve its administrative efficiency (Novak, 2019). The Progressive Movement’s supporters believed the state had a responsibility to play in the economy through regulation and competition monitoring. The political leaders during the era believed they had a mandate to reduce the influence the big companies had on the country and the people through the use of laws, such as the Sherman Antitrust Act (Rodgers, 2019). The progressive leaders established agencies to address malpractices and the conduct of businesses in various industries. For instance, regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission meant to control and manage trade activities within the country.

Influence of Progressivism on the Economy

The progressive government took a pronounced role in the economy. The state’s desire to become involved in economic activities is attributable to the growing calls by small enterprises, farmers, and labor organizations to intervene on their behalf (Novak, 2019). The need for progressive interventions prompted the government to take a proactive role in managing unemployment and wages within the country by creating the Federal Reserve System. During the Progressive Movement, the government’s pronounced role was instrumental in changing taxation and fiscal policy formulation. The Federal Reserve System, which strikes a balance between the private and public sectors, has been instrumental in the United States’ growth as an economic superpower (Rodgers, 2019). For instance, the United States government has become effective in handling money and banking issues, ensuring the economy is resilient.


The Progressive Movement sought to leverage science and technology to address the problems facings American society. The goals and reforms initiated by the progressives range from regulations on morality to legislation on the government’s role in the economy. The progressive Woodrow Wilson administration created regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission, to help manage commerce within the country. The Progressive Movement’s primary goals were to improve living and working conditions, eliminate corruption, involve citizens in governance, and eliminate monopolies. The Progressive Movement’s objectives sought to address the problems created by unstructured urbanization and industrialization within the United States.


Novak, W. J. (2019). Institutional economics and the progressive movement for the social control of American business. Business History Review, 93(4), 665-696.

Rodgers, D. T. (2019). The Progressive Era to the New Era, 1900-1929. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

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NerdyBro. (2022, June 7). The Progressive Movement: Impact on the Government and Society. Retrieved from


NerdyBro. (2022, June 7). The Progressive Movement: Impact on the Government and Society.

Work Cited

"The Progressive Movement: Impact on the Government and Society." NerdyBro, 7 June 2022,


NerdyBro. (2022) 'The Progressive Movement: Impact on the Government and Society'. 7 June.


NerdyBro. 2022. "The Progressive Movement: Impact on the Government and Society." June 7, 2022.

1. NerdyBro. "The Progressive Movement: Impact on the Government and Society." June 7, 2022.


NerdyBro. "The Progressive Movement: Impact on the Government and Society." June 7, 2022.