What is Sociological Imagination

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According to C Wright Mills Sociological Imagination is the practice as he states to ?think us away from the normal routines that we go through in our lives, so we can look at them with fresh, critical eyes (Isaksen). Meaning that Sociological imagination helps us to step back to see our lives, our problems with a different perspective and how it connects with society. So how does that fit into our lives and “our” problems? How can we apply it to ourselves?

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Wright Mills says it is through his theory which he calls sociological imagination. Mills states, to understand our experiences in life we must understand our historical period and the social forces that are sweeping the time in which we live (Henslin). Meaning that our personal experiences are connected to world around us. Society influences our behavior, how we act, our decision making, our beliefs, morals and values. All this, in turn, can cause social problems and disagreements amongst people.

According to social imagination society and influences around us helps to create us, molds us into who we are. Society plays a big role in everything we do, you learn by observing others, by our parents, and by our history. Our lives are influenced by how we are brought up, by our peers, friends, and society. We choose to follow because we want to be accepted and are taught what to believe and accept. We tend to follow in the footstep of others and carry on their beliefs and pass them down from generation to generation. We tend to act a certain way because we want to act accordingly to what society says is appropriate. We choose to do things because others do them and believe in certain rules or lifestyles.

In this life we are always trying to keep up with new changes around us, with new trends, rules, policies. Everything has an influence on us whether big or small and the way we behave has an influence on society as well. Mills also states sociological imagination is ?a vivid awareness of the relationship between experience and the wider society (Henslin). There are many others who are going through the same exact things as us and it is all connected.

Our problems may not just be ours, we all go through experiences, or struggles in life, and we never stop to think that someone out there is experiencing the same thing. It may be that our problems dont just happen because of our faults and failures, but because of reasons outside of our control. They are connected to something bigger, to issues in society which are social problems. Public issues can be the reason we are in a certain place in our life.

An example of Sociological Imagination in my life would be an experience I went through as a teen. Growing up I was on the chubbier side and I was obsessed with being thin, beautiful, and popular. I started exercising and trying to eat right, sometimes I would cut out meals because I didnt want to get fat. I was bullied and made fun of because I wasnt as thin as the other girls in school. I later got into the wrong crowd and started ditching school, withdrawing from family and acting out, I soon seen these new friends using drugs, drinking, and smoking.

So, I gave in to temptation, I stop going to school, and soon got busted with some illegal substance. Now if people were to look at this as a single problem I would be to blame for my own failure and yes in part thats true, but through the Sociological imagination, society and my peers would carry some blame in my decision making. Forces outside my control would have been at fault. I was so consumed with wanting to be accepted by society, I wanted to look like all those women on tv, in magazines, and social media. I wanted to look how society said I should look and I let all those forces around me affect my own thinking, decisions, and let them influence the outcome of my life. Sociological Imagination would say because of all these influences and the pressure to be thin is what caused me to use drugs and destroy my life. Even now I still strive to be healthy and fit. I exercise 6 days a week, eat right and cut out all fatty foods and in part these decisions are influenced by the world around me.

Im not the only one affected by the pressures of being accepted and the idea that society placed on us. Which was to be skinny, many girls then and now are affected by this stigma and resort to dangerous paths to get there. Now if you look at todays day and age its now the other way around. Society is now saying to be beautiful you must be busty and thick, skinny girls are now considered out. Theres all these adds on social media, and on tv about how to get bigger breast, perfect lips, eyes and body shapes. Girls are rushing to get cosmetic surgery and they are now trying this new trend waist training. Yes, changing our body image is partly our choice, but what influenced that choice? What pushed us to those extremes? Who had some part in placing that idea in our heads? Society did, and because of that we want to follow and be whats considered as acceptable by society.

What about paying for college, now for me this is a big issue, I cant afford to pay my way through college. How many people aside from myself struggle with this same problem? The average cost of school is between 17,000 to 38,000. About 70% of students are in debt with student loans and about 44 million Americans are in debt of about 1.4 trillion in student loans., Thats a lot and Im not the only one affected by this, so this is just not my issue but a social issue, its societys it becomes a social problem. All these problems can be a cause of things outside our control, things within society. Tuition costs are rising, and education is becoming too expensive.

We can go back to abortion and how it not only affects one person but all of us, our rights are being jeopardize. This affects society because one-persons view on the subject can be different from another which can cause friction between people and the public. One choice, one vote can change it all. Back then abortion was illegal, and you could be punished for it, but when women began to have rights and others believed different. Things changed, peoples ideas, thoughts, and morals changed.

Our world is constantly changing, evolving and shifting from one era to another. So, others followed and changed with it, what was once considered wrong now becomes the new normal. With abortion being somewhat accepted and its split, half of us believe it’s ok to some extent and others disagree completely which has caused debate and issues. Its become a social problem, and an issue we all face.

Sociological imagination helps us to see the bigger picture, it helps us to get a better understanding of who we are and society. It helps us to see the connections between our past, present, and how everything is all connected. Social imagination helps us to evaluate our lives and helps us to see our problems in a different light. Social Imagination helps us to have an open mind and step outside the box, to view things socially and how they intertwined and influence each other.  

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What is Sociological Imagination. (2019, May 07). Retrieved November 27, 2022 , from

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