Premium Essay

The Sociological Imagination

In: Social Issues

Submitted By emmalechte
Words 1118
Pages 5
In the following essay I will look at ‘The Sociological Imagination’ and Durkheim’s Sociological Perspective on suicide.
I will do this by using two texts, ‘Sociology in Today’s World’, chapter one ‘The Sociological Compass’ (Furze, B. Savy, P. Brym, R.J, Lie, J. 2012) and ‘The Sociological Imagination’ chapter one ‘The Promise’, (C. Wright Mills).

C. Wright Mills wrote a book in 1959 called ‘The Sociological Imagination”.
Mills coined the term Sociological Imagination and it has since been used as a very influential and relevant term in terms of helping to define what sociology actually is. It is also seen as a method in which sociologists use to interpret information.
He writes “The sociological imagination enables its possessor to understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external career of a variety of individuals” (C. W. Mills. 2005).

Mills begins the relevant chapter by giving a summary of what he believes is a rapid fast changing world. “Men” being left behind in their old ways, becoming overwhelmed at the abrupt and tremendous revolutions that occurred - changing society forever. The following statement is his description of this, “In what period have so many men been so totally exposed at so fast a pace to such earthquake of change?” (C.W.Mills pg. 12. 2005).
It is this that led Mills to define the sociological imagination as being able to see the relationship between the ordinary lives of people and the wider social factors and influences that affect them.

Mills accentuates the fact that an individual is unable to really understand the self and is unable to understand their place in society without first grasping the concept of the connection between biography and history.
Essential to the sociological imagination concept was the terms ‘private troubles’ and ‘public issues’. An...

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

Sociological Imagination

...anxious or “empty” these symptoms can greatly effect people’s daily routines. Suddenly, waking up in the morning, trying to fall asleep or simply interacting with other people becomes one of the most difficult challenges. Depression can be cause by many things such as financial issues, relationship problems, family problems or an individual just may not be happy. Although, if this person uses their social imagination it may be a little easier for them to cope with their depression. Looking at their problems in a more general perspective helps them realize they are not alone and these are daily problems everyone faces. Sociologist C. Wright Mills quotes “The sociological imagination enables its possessor to understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external career of a variety of individuals.” (Chap 1 pg2). C. Wright Mills presumes the Sociological imagination was a helpful way for people to allay their suffering by looking at their problems as if they weren’t the only ones going though it. The sociological imagination helps us look into the history and relations between an individual and society. (chap1) Depression can drain all your energy it can impair ones ability to keep up with societies daily routines such as sleeping, eating, enjoying activities that were once pleasurable. Growing up in the late 90’s early 2000’s the rise in the use of technology has increased dramatically. Due to this many people......

Words: 636 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Sociological Imagination

...Our study for this class is Sociological Imagination. Sociological imagination is the ability to see the relationship between the individual experiences and larger society (C. Wright Mills). Sociological Imagination is a great field in Sociology because it gives people both sides. Also, it explains what people go through in their personal lives can affect their public lives. My example is being a Christian and being in College. I feel as though it is hard living a Christian life at any age, but being younger it is a little more of a struggle. We live in the 21st century that basically anything goes and if a person is not doing it, they are lame. College has this title of freedom, learning, and parties. People think when a person goes to...

Words: 429 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Sociological Imagination Essay

...Sociological imagination is a concept used by C. Wright Mill in 1959. Mills explained sociological imagination as the quality of mind that enables people to see how remote and impersonal social forces shape their biography (Ferrante, 2016:4). According to Mills the intension of sociological imagination was to make society think critically and be able to see connection or link between personal troubles, social issues and structures. Which means that individuals must be able to understand and link their own situation in the light of what is happening in broader society. Social imagination is an analytical tool to study society because it helps people to understand each other, by socializing and sharing the ideas of what affects them individually and within the society. For example one might be HIV positive and think it has only to do with personal issues like not using protection or being irresponsible but in reality it could be that thousands of people in that area are infected with this diseases because of poor...

Words: 635 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Sociological Imagination Research Paper

...C. Wright mills was a renowned sociologist of the 20th century. He was widely known for his many contributions to sociology and the social sciences “The sociological Imagination” being one of them. Introduced in 1959 the Sociological Imagination points to the relationship among individual adversities and the bigger picture of the social powers that are the influence behind them. The purpose of sociological imagination is to view things from a social standpoint. Sociological imagination helps us to step out of our personal sphere and experience the world how others experience the world. Sociological imagination enables us to comprehend the society in which we inhabit by removing the individual apart from reality and look past the bigger...

Words: 359 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

My Sociological Imagination: Personal Experience

...concept that highlights what I’ve learned and how the knowledge gained as a result has impacted my personal experiences is the “Sociological Imagination”. The Sociological Imagination is a unique way of thinking that allows individuals to see the interrelation between private troubles...

Words: 616 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Chapter One ‘the Promise’, of C.Wright Mills (1959) the Sociological Imagination.

...Chapter One ‘The Promise’, of C.Wright Mills (1959) The Sociological Imagination. The Promise, a chapter in the book entitled ‘The Sociological Imagination’, written by C. Wright Mills (1959, pp 3-24) is from a sociological perspective in regards to the unrecognised linkage between history and biography. It also mentions the three sorts of questions asked by classical analyst, the distinction between the terms issues and troubles. Mills repetitively makes reference to the notion that in order to comprehend an individual’s life; be it man or woman, it is prominent to consider and understand one’s historical social context. There is a connection that exists which most people don’t acknowledge and realise its existence, which is the “the interplay of biography and history” [ (p. 4) ]. According to Mills, “Men often feel that their lives are a series of traps. They feel that within their worlds they cannot overcome their troubles [ (p. 3) ]. This theory supports the notion that feelings associated with malaise, troubles and issues are actually linked to society which affects them individually. Mills strongly emphasises the importance of sociological imagination, which is that in order for an individual to make sense of what is happening to them, they should consider and reflect on the intersections of biographical time and social-historical time. Mills emphasises the significance of sociological imagination and states that isn’t simplistically a ‘fashion’ but a quality of......

Words: 285 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Sociological Imagination

...SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION * The American sociologist C. Wright Mills coined the term sociological imagination in 1959 to describe the type of insight offered by the discipline of sociology. * Mills defined sociological imagination as “...the vivid awareness of the relationship between experience and the wider society.” * Mills is stating that sociological imagination is the ability to perceive situations and circumstances in a wide social context and observe how interactions and actions are influential upon other individuals and situations  *  The sociological imagination involves the understanding that social outcomes are shaped by social context, actors, culture, history and social actions. * Sociologists typically focus their studies on how people and society influence other people, because external, or social, forces shape most personal experiences. These social forces exist in the form of interpersonal relationships among family and friends, as well as among the people encountered in academic, religious, political, economic, and other types of social institutions. * The sociological imagination thus includes the understanding of the interconnections that inform the fabric of human societies. In other words, the things we do are shaped by the situation we are in, the values we have, the way people around us act, and how that all relates to some sort of outcome. * Sociologists look at events from a holistic, or multidimensional, perspective.......

Words: 692 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Sociological Imagination

...OUTLINE The Sociological Imagination * Sociology is the study of human society. * In the mid-twentieth century, sociologist C. Wright Mills argued that we need to use our sociological imagination to think critically about the social world around us. * The sociological imagination is the ability to connect one’s personal experiences to society at large and greater historical forces. Using our sociological imagination allows us to “make the familiar strange” or to question habits or customs that seem “natural” to us. What Is a Social Institution? * A social institution is a group of social positions, connected by social relations, that perform a social role. Social institutions, such as the legal system, the labor market, or language itself, have a great influence on our behavior and are constantly changing. * The interactions and meanings we ascribe to social institutions shape and change them. * Social identity is how individuals define themselves in relationship to groups they are a part of (or in relationship to groups they choose not to be a part of). We all contribute to one another’s social identity, which can also be thought of as a grand narrative constructed of many individual stories. The Sociology of Sociology * The French scholar Auguste Comte, founder of what he called “social physics” or “positivism,” felt that we could better understand society by determining the logic or scientific laws governing human behavior. * Harriet......

Words: 648 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Sociological Imagination

...beliefs founded solely on majority consensus. However, the fact that a large percentage of the population believes something to be true is no guarantee of its validity. Thus sociologists employ a variety of tools and concepts based on critical thinking and standardized methodologies in order to determine which popular assumptions are correct and which are myths. A key assumption hindering a sociological understanding is that of Western societies tendency to conceptualize individuals as entities distinct from social context. This emphasis on autonomy and freedom of choice preclude recognition of the social forces that limit or constrain such choices. In order to view individual circumstance as a result of broader social patterns Wright Mills (1970:12) developed a perspective called the sociological imagination. This viewpoint encourages an awareness of the relationship between individuals and the wider society, arguing that society, not individual choices are responsible for social problems, thus transforming personal troubles into public issues. A crucial element of the sociological imagination is the ability to ‘step outside’ ones own personal experience and cultural biases to view society from a more objective standpoint, devoid of influence from ones own assumptions (Van Krieken et al. 2010:2). In order to debunk commonsense assumptions about social life sociologist must collect knowledge of such social phenomena. Unless this is produced in a systematic way, any......

Words: 558 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Sociological Imagination

...article 3 4. Religion 4 5.5 Defining religion 4 5.6 Introducing the article Christians are not that silent 4 5.7 Background information on the article 4 5.8 Discussing the personal troubles and public issues of the article 4 5. Conclusion: personal view of the sociological imagination 4 6. References 5 C. Wright Mills (1916-1962) was an influential sociologist that wrote one of the first books on the Sociological Imagination called The Sociological Imagination (1959). According to Mills (1916-1962), sociology was merely about understanding the complex relationship between individuals and the society that they lived in by using an “out of the box” and critical way of thinking. In order to fully understand this complex relationship, knowledge of biography and history has to be considered. Another significant founder of sociology, Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) has simply described the Sociological Imagination as “the ability to situate personal troubles within an informed framework of larger social processes”. The main goal and key concept of the Sociological Imagination is the difference between personal troubles and public issues. Personal troubles closely link with biography. These are problems that occur in an individual’s daily life that do not affect large groups of people. Public issues link with history. These are bigger issues that affect large numbers of people and stem...

Words: 1279 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Sociological Imagination

...The "Sociological Imagination" was introduced by American sociologist C. Wright Mills in 1959. He defined sociology as ‘quality of mind that enables us to grasp history and biography and the relation between the two within society’ (Mills 1959, pp. 6, 15).So sociological imagination means a set of mind that allows us to see the connection between events in our personal life and events in the society. The purpose of the sociological imagination is to see the bigger picture in which the people of the live their live, to identify public affairs and personal problems as two aspects of a single system. Sociological imagination helps us to understand the society in which we live in by showing us not the reality but the picture beyond itself. And in this way it helps us to see the strong connection between our personal life and the society that we live in. As I mentioned in the definition before that sociological imagination not only allows us to study an individual's biography, but to set that biography in the bigger situation of the history and custom of the society in which that individual lives. We can see how personal troubles and social problems are connected by recognising the relation between history and biography. It is seen that many times we fail to see our own biographies as being correlated to the larger population of the society. It can be explained better by using an example given by Mills on unemployment. When someone is unemployed then that is a personal problem. So...

Words: 449 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

Sociological Imagination

...THE SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION C. WRIGHT MILLS NEW YORK Oxford University Press 1959 Appendix On Intellectual Craftsmanship TO THE INDIVIDUAL social scientist who feels himself a part of the classic tradition, social science is the practice of a craft. A man at work on problems of substance, he is among those who are quickly made impatient and weary by elaborate discussions of method-and-theory-in-general; so much of it interrupts his proper studies. It is much better, he believes, to have one account by a working student of how he is going about his work than a dozen 'codifications of procedure' by specialists who as often as not have never done much work of consequence. Only by conversations in which experienced thinkers exchange information about their actual ways of working can a useful sense of method and theory be imparted to the beginning student. I feel it useful, therefore, to report in some detail how I go about my craft. This is necessarily a personal statement, but it is written with the hope that others, especially those beginning independent work, will make it less personal by the facts of their own experience. 1 It is best to begin, I think, by reminding you, the beginning student, that the most admirable thinkers within the scholarly community you have chosen to join do not split their work from their lives. They seem to take both too seriously to allow such dissociation, and they want to use each for the enrichment of the other. Of course, such......

Words: 12935 - Pages: 52

Premium Essay

Sociological Imagination

...This essay will discuss the sociological imagination (Mills 1959) as a tool to understand that personal troubles can often be caused or influenced by broader issues within society, rather than as a result of the individual. Fundamental to this theory is the difference between personal troubles and public issues in society, as often a distinction is not made between the two. If this contrast cannot be recognised then a sense of entrapment can be felt by the individual. An example of this is the institution of marriage and divorce. If the connection to the societal issues can be seen and perspective on personal troubles changed, this sense of entrapment or guilt can be relieved. Mills stated that the key to the sociological imagination was being able to see the relationship between the personal life of the individual and the wider public issues of society. An individual’s private troubles may occur due to their character, skills and immediate opportunities. Public issues are the result of broad societal flaws, affecting the individual but not caused by them directly (Mills 1959: 8). The distinction between the two is not always seen clearly, and often those that are unable to distinguish this difference are plagued by a feeling of entrapment and feel they are to blame for their situation and are thus falsely conscious of their social position (Mills 1959: 6). The sociological imagination can relieve this feeling as it allows the individual to understand that personal......

Words: 578 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Sociological Imagination

...In society today, it’s widely accepted and understood that teaching is a profession solely for women. Therefore, many of us would be surprised to learn that teaching was initially a male dominated profession; what caused the change? The employment of the sociological imagination allows us to connect the experiences in the present with our history and larger social forces in order to better understand the evolution of teaching from a male-dominated profession to a female-dominated profession. Teaching itself isn’t inherently gendered, but our current societal context has gendered it, and history will help us understand how that came to be. In this reflection, I will use the concept “sociological imagination” to argue how and why teaching has...

Words: 630 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Sociological Imagination

...Sociological Imagination Tomeka Blake American InterContinental University Abstract “C. W. Mills defines sociological imagination as the awareness of the relationship between experience and the wider world” (Editorial Board, 2013). In other words taking someone else’s problems and entwining them with issues in our society. “Numerous individuals and social institutions play a role in the social interaction of everyday life and in the socialization of each individual” (M.U.S.E., 2013). Using sociological imagination I will build a connection with being an unmarried pregnant teenager and the impact it has socially in our society. Sociological Imagination As individuals we based our decisions on values instilled in us and peer pressure from our society. “We are individually shaped by society and social interaction through the process of socialization, which begins at birth and continues throughout our lifetime” (M.U.S.E., 2013). Teenage pregnancy has been a concern in our society and over the past 20 years, pregnancy in unmarried teenagers has increased dramatically. “Unmarried pregnant teenager varies based upon race, ethnicity, religion, and socioeconomic status” (Mollborn, 2009). Based on my experience low income families and the community they live in accept unmarried teenage pregnancy, because it is normal to them. Teenage pregnancy has increased and is an undisclosed major problem in our society. As a......

Words: 545 - Pages: 3