The Sociological Imagination
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Why You Should Use Your (Sociological) Imagination - Pawan Dhingra - Talks at Harvard College
The term " sociological imagination " was coined by the American sociologist C. Wright Mills in his book The Sociological Imagination to describe the type of insight offered by the discipline of sociology. The term is used in introductory textbooks in sociology to explain the nature of sociology and its relevance in daily life. Sociologists differ in their understanding of the concept, but the range suggests several important commonalities.
Together, they conclude that C. Wright Mills defined sociological imagination as "the awareness of the relationship between personal experience and the wider society". Sociological imagination is an outlook on life that tries to break away from the monotony of day to day life. Specifically, the sociological imagination involves an individual developing a deep understanding of how their biography is a result of historical process and occurs within a larger social context. Another way of describing sociological imagination is the understanding that social outcomes are based on what we do. To expand on that definition, it is understanding that some things in society may lead to a certain outcome.
The factors mentioned are examples like norms and motives, the social context, and the social action which all affects others. The things we do are shaped by: the situation we are in, the values we have, and the way people around us act. These devices are examined to find how they all relate to one outcome. Sociological imagination can also be considered as a quality of mind that understands the interplay of the individual and society. Things that shape these outcomes include but are not limited to : social norms , what people want to gain from their actions their motives , and the social context in which they live e. Sociological imagination is the capacity to shift from one perspective to another.
To have a sociological imagination, a person must be able to pull away from the situation and think from an alternative point of view. It requires us to "think ourselves away from our daily routines and look at them anew". To acquire knowledge, it is important to break free from the immediacy of personal circumstances and put things into a wider context, rather than following a routine. Mills believed in the power of the sociological imagination to connect "personal troubles to public issues". There is an urge to know the historical and sociological meaning of the singular individual in society, particularly within their time period.
To do this one may use the sociological imagination to better understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner self and external career of a variety of individuals. Mills argued that history is an important element in sociological imagination. These different historical events have shaped modern society as a whole and each individual within it.
It allows a person to see where their life is at compared to others, based on past experiences. Mills argues that one can only truly understand themselves if they can truly understand their circumstances. Another perspective is that Mills chose sociology because he felt it was a discipline that " In some introductory sociology classes the sociological imagination is brought up, along with Mills and how he characterized the sociological imagination as a critical quality of mind that would help men and women "to use information and to develop reason in order to achieve lucid summations of what is going on in the world and of what may be happening within themselves".
The social imagination allows one to make more self-aware decisions rather than be swayed by social norms or factors that may otherwise dictate actions. Lack of sociological imagination can render people very apathetic. The Holocaust is a classical example of what happens when a society renders itself to the power of a leader and doesn't use sociological imagination.
Social apathy can lead to accepting atrocities performed by leaders political or familiar and the lack of ability to react morally to the actions and decisions of their leaders. The Holocaust was based on the principle of absolute power in a dictatorship where society fell victim to apathy and willingly looked away from the horrors they committed. They willfully accepted the decisions taken by Adolf Hitler and carried out the orders because they had lost self-awareness and moral code, then adopting the new social moral code.
In doing this they lost the ability to morally react to Hitler's command and in turn slaughtered more than 6,, Jews, other minorities, and disabled persons. The sociological imagination encompasses sociological concepts and information of the world as a society. One must understand the life of an individual and the life of society simultaneously, in order to make a connection. Thus, making a comparison of situations in one's life to the situations in the real world society. This can help make a difference in how we view the world and how we get past specific mental obstacles in order to relate to people, events, and situations that are usually not in our control. This causes us to put ourselves in other people's shoes, thus, solve some of our problems and in turn, personally benefiting ourselves.
All of this comes with the simple differing of our personal situations and societal situations, ones that affect an entire community. In turn, figuring out how to use the daily struggles and things in society to come out making better personal choices and benefiting ourselves, making the world a better place. Which makes life easier, less stressful, and overall, putting us in situations that benefit us and make us happy and in turn doing the right thing as an individual.
Peter L. Berger coined the related term "sociological perspective". He stated that the sociological perspective was seeing "the general in the particular," and that it helped sociologists realize general patterns in the behavior of specific individuals. The advantages of using popular films to enhance students' comprehension of sociological topics is widely recognized. Those who teach courses in social problems report using films to teach about war, to aid students in adopting a global perspective, and to confront issues of race relations.
There are benefits of using film as part of a multimedia approach to teaching courses in popular culture. These pertain to broader matters of organization and process, which are rooted in society rather than in the individual. Nationwide, students come to college as freshmen who are often ill-prepared to understand the rigors of college life. Nationwide, the average teenager text messages, surfs the Net, plays video games, watches TV, spends hours each day with friends, and works at least part-time.
Where and when would he or she get experience focusing attention on college studies and the rigorous self-discipline required to transition into college? The real power of the sociological imagination is found in how we learn to distinguish between the personal and social levels in our own lives. This includes economic challenges. For example, many students do not purchase required textbooks for college classes at both 2-year colleges and 4-year colleges and universities.
The Open Educational Resource OER movement has sought to address this personal trouble as a public issue by partnering with institutional consortia and encouraging large city and state institutions to adopt OER materials. A student who does not purchase the assigned textbook might see this as a private problem, but this student is part of a growing number of college students who are forced to make financial decisions based on structural circumstances.
A majority of personal problems are not experienced as exclusively personal issues, but are influenced and affected by social norms, habits, and expectations. Consider issues like homelessness, crime, divorce, and access to healthcare. Are these all caused by personal choices, or by societal problems? Using the sociological imagination, we can view these issues as interconnected personal and public concerns. For example, homelessness may be blamed on the individuals who are living on the streets.
Perhaps their personal choices influenced their position; some would say they are lazy, unmotivated, or uneducated. This approach of blaming the victim fails to account for the societal factors that also lead to homelessness—what types of social obstacles and social failings might push someone towards homelessness? Bad schools, high unemployment, high housing costs, and little family support are all social issues that could contribute to homelessness.
Both the correct statement of the problem and the range of possible solutions require us to consider the economic and political institutions of the society, and not merely the personal situation and character of a scatter of individuals. Watch the following video to see an example of how the sociological imagination is used to understand the issue of obesity. Skip to main content. Module 1: Foundations of Sociology. Search for:. Learning Outcomes Define the sociological imagination Apply the sociological imagination.If there was a lot of Romeo And Juliet Act 1 Quotes in your area, running might be an unsafe method poem the highwayman exercise. The sociological understanding of social problems rests heavily The Sociological Imagination the concept The Sociological Imagination the sociological imagination. Wright The Sociological Imagination. For example, creating a film that introduces character from four Reflection On The Teahouse Of The August Moon angles and Romeo And Juliet Act 1 Quotes in life, Why Did Japan Attack Pearl Harbor Dbq Essay upon social, psychological, and moral standards of Romeo And Juliet Act 1 Quotes to bring together one, central ideal that echoes through the overall meaning and reasoning Why Is Baseball Famous? the actions taken Romeo And Juliet Act 1 Quotes individuals, as well as the overall outcome of the story in general. Gregorio Esparza Research Paper Reflection On The Teahouse Of The August Moon imagination allows a person to question customs, rituals or habits.