Sociological imagination concept paper TyJenae Cole SOC 2013030 My Explanation of Sociological Imagination In 1959 Sociological imagination, the relationship between individual experiences and larger social influences, was developed by C. Wright Mills. It emphasizes an interconnection between personal issues and broader issues in history of society.
According to “The Promise”, by C. Wright Mills, the life of an individual is shaped by history and society itself. He explains how people should pay attention to social structures and not just the basics. He uses an example of how men believe their lives “are a trap” because they are only focused on the specifics of their lives (jobs, family, household etc…).
He continues on stating that “underlying the sense of being trapped are seemingly impersonal in the very structure of continent-wide societies”, which implies that their issue isn’t personal. If we all see thing as a group we would all be less stressed. The feeling of not being alone is enough to satisfy our nerves. My personal definition of is paying attention to broader social structures being connected to personal issues.We all need to consider the big picture when facing obstacles in life.
It may not be all our fault. We can relive the weight that is on our shoulders and relax. Structural issues are not our fault it is laws and just the way things are set up. Some of those issues can also influence our decision making process. There are multiple things that influence our decision making. Age can affect our decision process. For example, if you ask a 4 year old if they want a candy or one hundred dollars, they will most likely take the cookie because they normally don’t understand the value of money.
Speaking of money, a person’s socioeconomic status can affect decision making. Not making enough money can restrict a person’s options. According to the American psychological Association, having a low socioeconomic status can increase negative emotions which can affect our decision making. They give an example of a person being anxious or depressed, which is linked to poverty, they value smaller, short term rewards oppose to long term rewards. Poverty is also interconnected with narrowing a person’s focus.
They are more focused on money and food on the table which leaves less thinking for other things. This can also affect the amount of education one has. Many teenagers have to dropout of school and work to help pay rent and bills for the house. Their opportunities in life are now limited because they don’t even have a high school diploma. Another influence on our decision making is our religion or beliefs. Many religions have a list of “do’s and don’ts”.
For example, muslim women wear hijab so that “a man can know her mind and not her body”. They don’t have a choice in what to wear outside the house because of what they believe in. On another note, muslim women also are rarely employed/ rarely work outside of home. They also don’t go to college. This can limit their opportunities in life as well. Their possibility to become a lawyer or a doctor is rare because they don’t have the credibility since the stay at home and didn’t go to college.
Their biographies fit into larger social structures. Our biographies fit into broader social structures because they are interconnected. Accordings to C. Wright Mill’s sociological imagination, you are never truly alone in the issues/ obstacles you face. Your private issues may also be a public issue.
The example often given is if you have trouble finding a job, it can be part of a more public issue. If the issue affects a whole group it may be a public issue. There is a problem with the work system and it is beyond your control. Another example is divorce. The divorce rates stay constant annually.
There are apart of a group in society. They all face similar problems such as, infidelity, money, lack of communication and more. There is always a similar amount of couples that go through similar situations. Their personal issues fit into a social structure. In some way we are all connected to a group that go through similar trials and tribulations.We all fit into a social structure, including me. My personal biography has shaped me into the person I am today.
I grew up in a house of seven people with only four rooms. We were all really close and had strong bonds. That made me more open to people. I also grew up in a low income household. That affected the way I think of school. I use to think college isn’t for me and that I would just graduate and get a job. Eventually, teachers/ counselors informed me of the importance of college and my perception then changed.
I began researching and reading up on college and came to the conclusion that I would go to college and major in something i’m really interested in and pursue a career that I would love while also making good money. Growing up in a low income household showed me that I actually never want to go through that again which lead me to going to a community college for two year sand then transferring to a university eventually.
In the story, Sam’s decision to drop out, as a private issue, was because of him staying out late to avoid conflict at home. His decision to stay out late resulted in him being late to class and eventually not going to class at all.Growing up in a poor neighborhood can cause stress, adhd and other negative impacts on children.
On a structural level, sams dropout was due to him growing up in a neighborhood where 80% of the residents were below poverty line. His parents fighting is also a structural issue. Low socioeconomic status leads to stress and the father was under a lot of stress that wasn’t a personal issue. He was limited to man resources. This is something that was way beyond his control. The education system was also a structural issue. They had inexperienced teachers, who were also facing structural issues.
Children rarely had textbooks and were not taught history and social studies. These are all structural issues that Samuel and his family faced. Sam resorting to crime, as a private trouble, would be him deciding to commit crimes. He could have done other productive things. If he was one of the only people to commit crimes in his community that makes it a personal issue. As a structural issue Sam and the majority of the kids in the neighborhood turn to crimes due to poverty.
It isn’t just Samuel that is affected. Since the neighborhood is poor there are no places for children to go play or have fun. Their parents don’t make enough to buy them food or nice clothes so they decide to steal.This is a structural issue because a group is affected by the way their lives are set up and they have little or no control over the things that occur. They are a group in society that is affected by the social structure.