Outline the main characteristics of the ‘Sociological Imagination Essay’ and
discuss how sociologists might apply these to the study of everyday life.
The sociological imagination is “a kind of interpretive imagination which
does not treat its subject matter like objects in the natural world. It is
anthropological, historical and critical” (Holmes, Hughes, & Julian, 2003,
pg. 7). These components make up the three sociological dimensions.
historical facet analyses the historical context of a subject matter to
better understand the subject in the present. The purpose of history is not
only “to study the past as an end in itself but as a way of reflecting on
the present” (Holmes et al, 2003, pg. 10). Hence, the sociological
imagination demands that it is not enough to examine the society merely in
the present. The cultural aspect of the sociological imagination involves
the “learned ideas, values, knowledge, rules and customs shared by members
of a collectivity” (Holmes et al, 2003, pg 11). Culture in the sociological
imagination allows the comprehension of why people hold certain ideas and
values, and follows certain rules and customs.
The critical aspect of the
sociological imagination stipulates the initiative to analyze. Although it
is, by human nature, to assume the meaning of actions carried out by
people, C. Wright Mills claims that assumptions are not enough. Through
assumptions, many things are taken for granted and the true meaning is not
revealed. Therefore, reflection, observation and experience are the best
ways to critically examine a subject matter. Having discussed the main
characteristics of the sociological imagination, this essay will continue
to discuss how sociologists, using the three sociological dimensions, might
apply it to everyday social issues, namely racism in Australia and teenage
Since the first white settlement, Australian culture has always
consisted of beliefs and attitudes about race. These racial attitudes and
beliefs have significantly influenced the development of Australian
society. Racism is deeply embedded in Australian culture and is immensely
damaging to the society. (McConnochie, Hollinsworth, & Pettman, 1988)
Racism is objectively defined as any practice of ethnic discrimination or
segregation. The historical dimension of Australian racism dates back to
the early white settlers, the British. Ignoring the fact that the land was
inhabited, and without attempting to gain consent from its inhabitants,
Captain James Cook, on arrival, declared the land of New South Wales to be
the property of King George III.
Thereafter, inhabitants of the land, the
Aborigines, progressively experienced invasion by white settlers of
majority of the land they once possessed. (Hollinsworth, 1998)
Subsequently, by the 1920s Aborigines were seen as irrelevant by the
majority of Australians. After which they experienced the implementation of
the ‘White Australia Policy’. With this, the lives of most Aborigines were
determined more by prejudices of white Australians rather than by law. In
the long run, the indigenous people of Australia faced many inequalities.
The cultural dimension exhibits the stereotype placed on these
Whereby Aborigines were perceived as being smelly,
dirty, lazy ‘dole-bludgers’. Such stereotype still exists until this day.
The Australian society as a whole still, whether discretely or openly,
discriminates against Aborigines. Aborigines face discrimination with
regards to opportunities such as employment, and are forced to tolerate
inadequacy of essential resources such as water. (Hollinsworth, 1998) The
problem of discrimination lies in the arrogance and ignorance of the
society at large to understand the Aboriginal culture.
In critically examining this racism in all its dimensions, it is
unfair to discriminate against Aborigines regarding their personal well-
being, lack of education, or their lifestyle.
With reference to the
historical context of this particular race, they are not to be held
responsible for their inability to adapt to the demands of the Australian
society today. They were victims of pure racism. Stripped of their land,
their culture, as well as their dignity. And as a result, they are outcasts
in a society of the land in which they have called home for thousands of
years. They are smelly and dirty because of the lack of resources available
to them and they are lazy ‘dole-bludgers’ because no one will employ them.
The use of drugs in our society has become a major issue of concern
for many individuals and groups in the community.
As a survey shows that
“among those people attending (the Taskforce drug program) were a high
number of adolescents” (Brown, 1991, pg. I). Today drugs are considered to
be an acceptable social phenomenon by many teenagers. In sociological
contexts, the term drug refers to “any chemical substance that affects body
functions, mood, perception, or consciousness; .