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Ssci206

In: Social Issues

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The main argument Mills made in the first chapter of “Sociological Imagination” is the connection between individual experiences in daily life and changes in social structure. The sociological imagination is a mental ability that enables us to see this connection. Mills also suggests that seeing the distinction “between ‘the personal troubles of milieu’ and ‘the public issues of social structure” is the essential tool of the sociological imagination. Only when we clearly distinguish personal troubles and public issues can we see the connection between individuals’ experiences and social structures. Personal troubles are private problems that can be explained by personal characteristics; public issues are problems of collective concern. Mills used unemployment as an example to illustrate the differences between the two. He said, “In a city of 100,000, only one is unemployed, that is his personal trouble…in a nation of 50 million employees, 15 million people are unemployed, that is an issue” (Mills, 1959). We may feel empathy when we read this example as we are experiencing an economic recession.
Last Friday’s headline story of New York Times (“Jobless Rate Hits 7.2%, a 16-Year High”) reports the unemployment rate rapidly increased from 2007 to 2008, from 4.9% to 7.2%. The number of unemployed people increased to 11.1 million at the end of 2008. This news story interprets the recent unemployment crisis as a public issue, as do most other observers. Politicians, economists, and citizens all have called for public policies to resolve the crisis. If politicians, economists, CEOs, and citizens all recognize unemployment as a public issue, does it mean that they possess a sociological imagination? If not, what is the difference between all of them and people who have a sociological imagination, such as sociologists?
The report suggests a consensus that the recent...

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