The most common example of the sociological imagination pertains to unemployment. An individual facing unemployment might feel defeated, depleted, and discouraged. That person is likely to look in the mirror and say, “You didn’t work hard enough. You didn’t try hard enough…” You, you, you.
If Mills were around, he’d say, “Not you. The world around you.” Mills believed things only worked when you saw “the vivid awareness of the relationship between experience and the wider society.” He encouraged people to stop focusing on themselves alone and to look at the wider landscape of society.
If you take Mills’ stance, you’ll start to believe that every problem faced by an individual has roots in society as a whole and is faced by many others. There’s some truth to that, isn’t there? It’s unlikely that every struggle you face is unique to you alone. There are hundreds, thousands, if not millions of others who are going through the same struggle.
However, Mills never thought sociology alone was the ultimate science. He felt sociologists, psychologists, economists, and political scientists should all work together. This makes sense, given his broad pair of lenses.
Everyday Behavior and Sociological Imagination
This is a fun place to start because it allows us to see how almost any behavior can have the sociological imagination applied to it. Something as simple as drinking a cup of tea, or coffee, can be examined from several different perspectives. It’s rarely just an old lady sipping a warm cup of Earl Grey on a misty morning.
- Tea drinking can be seen as a means of maintaining good health in the way that one might take daily supplements or vitamins.
- Drinking tea or coffee can be considered a tradition or a ritual, as many people choose to make it in the same way every day at a certain time.
- Drinking tea or coffee can be considered an addiction because they contain caffeine.
- Coffee drinking can be seen as a social activity because “going for coffee” focuses less on the beverage and more on talking with others.
As soon as you start to think about various issues or activities in perspectives that differ from your own, you’re entering the realm of the sociological imagination. Other everyday behaviors that can be viewed using the sociological imagination technique include exercising, watching TV or owning a pet. How many different perspectives can you think of for these activities?For this final paper, you are expected to reflect on C. Wright Mills’s sociological imagination once again. This time, explain how you will use your sociological imagination moving forward. This may include how you anticipate it will help or guide you in your intended profession and/or personal life. Use this as an opportunity to reflect on material we’ve covered in this course, how some of it may have changed or confirmed the way you view our society, and what that means for you as an important member of our society. Try incorporating at least one concept or theory we’ve covered in your essay. This assignment is decidedly more creative than earlier assignments but there should still be some engagement with course material.