Books and Movies Reviews

Sociological Imagination

C. Wright Mills – the theorist behind the idea of the ‘sociological imagination’ Sociological Imagination Summarised from ‘Public Sociology’ pages 7, 8 and 9 C. Wright Mills defined sociological imagination as “the vivid awareness of the relationship between experience and the wider society. ” AND He also said, ‘it enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society. ‘ AND That it is only through understanding the PUBLIC issues that we can understand PERSONAL issues… FOR EXAMPLE Mills gave the example of unemployment.

One man’s unemployment is a personal trouble but if hundreds of thousands of people across a nation are unemployed, it is no longer a matter of ‘personal failure’ but a public issue that requires political and economic interventions… Thus, the sociological imagination is the ability to IMAGINE a link between the public and personal spheres… When personal troubles are experienced collectively, sociologists highlight underlying social patterns and social influences. Mills claimed that if we could see the social forces affecting our lives we could more readily see olutions to our problems.

It is not just a matter of changing our situation but changing what is happening in society. THIS IS HOW SOCIAL CHANGE OCCURS. EXAMPLE In The late 1960s, second-wave feminism adopted the very sociological saying that ‘the personal is political’. The personal rights for which many individual women were fighting, such as access to safe contraception, no-fault divorce, safety from domestic violence, protection from sex discrimination, and the need for affordable childcare along with maternity leave and equal pay, were ALSO ublic issues that could be placed on the public agenda for political resolution.

Indeed, the social reforms of the 1970s and 1980s, such as equal pay legislation, equal opportunity policies, and the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 were clear acknowledgement of the links between personal troubles and public issues – THE SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION IN ACTION. The Sociological Imagination Template Questions 1. What is the ‘sociological imagination’? 2. Give one example of the sociological imagination in action. 3. Consider he following ‘personal issues’ and establish the link to the ‘public issue’.

Then analyse the public issue using the template above, applying the FOUR factors to each one; * A woman will lose her job if she takes any more time off to care for her sick child. * A boy is being horribly bullied at school and online. He is contemplating suicide. * Aman has lost his job and can’t find employment because of an injury. He is sleeping either on friends couches, in shelters or on the streets. * A Sudanese-Australian man, based in Melbourne, cannot get a ob interview and changes his name to sound more ‘Anglo-Saxon’ to increase his chances.

Questions 4. What is the ‘sociological imagination’? 5. Give one example of the sociological imagination in action. 6. Consider analyse the public issue using the template above, applying the FOUR factors to each one; * A woman will lose her job if she takes any more time off to care for her sick child. * A boy is being horribly bullied at school and online. He is because of an injury. He is sleeping either on friends ‘ couches, in shelters or on chances. 1. Historical Factors How have past events influenced the present? 2.

Cultural Factors What influence do tradition, cultural values and particular belief systems have on our behaviour and social interaction? In what ways has cultural change occurred? What subcultures exist? How does our own cultural background influence our sociological gaze? 3. Structural Factors How do various forms or social organisation and social institution affect our lives? How do these vary over time and between countries and regions? 4. Critical Factors Why are things the way they are? How could they be otherwise?

Who benefits and who is disadvantaged by the status quo? What ‘alternative futures’ are possible? How do sociological insights relate to our own life experiences? 5. Historical Factors How have past events influenced the present? 6. Cultural Factors What influence do tradition, cultural values and particular belief systems have on our behaviour and social interaction? In what ways has cultural change occurred? What subcultures exist? How does our own cultural background influence our sociological gaze? 7.