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Sociological Imagination by Charles Wright Mills

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When one thinks about their existence, one considers their day-to-day life and think about the standards. Charles Wright Mills came up with the concept of sociological imagination which describes how the ponderings of individuals will exceed the ordinary. As one analyzes the outlook of society, sociological imagination will guide one away from their typical thoughts about life. Rather, one will look and see substantially more.

According to this sociologist, sociological imagination is a connection between people and history. Specifically, he defined sociological imagination as “the awareness of the relationship between personal experience and the wider society”. In other words, it is the cognizant of people, society and history. Individuals and societies create one another; you cannot understand a person if you do not understand their society and vice versa. All things considered, Mills concludes that sociological imagination provides an understanding on the effects that we as people have on society and the effect that society has on us. Sociological imagination is about “making the strange familiar”. It is about empathy; it is a step that one would takes out of their own lives to look into the “bigger” picture. The conjunction between biography and history will unfold in this broad view. This way of seeing will lead those who possess sociological imagination to make inquiries of the interconnection that they faced. These questions incorporates “what is the structure of this particular society as a whole?, Where does this society stand in human history?, what varieties of men and women now prevail in this society and in this period?”. Within some of these questions, it may deal with problems that are private and public matters.

In sociological imagination, it brings matters such as personal troubles of milieu and public issues of social structure into perspective. Personal troubles of milieu are conflicts within oneself. These inconveniences happen from the individual, the close relations to others, and the restricted regions of a social life. In contrast, public issues of social structure occur when affairs spreads beyond self and local environments such as the immediate friends, family, etc. Concisely, these matters are distinct when seeing troubles as personal problems while issues are public problems. Mills find that knowing the difference between the two terms is “an essential tool of sociological imagination”. To distinct troubles from issues is significant because the public issues are often overlooked frequently. Numerous of people accept that issues are people’s own personal troubles of milieu. By way of illustration, a suicide has been committed by an individual yet, people find this dilemma of self-destruction as “common”. They may surmise that “it’s his life, his choices. That’s only him and his family, no one else. It has nothing to do with me”.

However, sociologist Emile Durkheim would probably beg to differ. He explained that sociological imagination within his work of “Suicide” in his own way by bringing history into it. Suicide is regularly misjudged as a “personal trouble because it could be a public issue based on various of indications. Suicide could be the aftereffect of strains on the foundation of family. One could credit high suicide rates to the weights that the people may have including the social desire to gain an advanced education; the excessive costs of getting that education; the absence of occupations which may and can give one much pressure once they are out of school. Thus, this case of suicide has expanded from being a private and personal to open and public difficulties. Hence, suicide is not just a personal trouble, but it is also a public issue. As a matter of fact, this correlation of issues and troubles is what Mills implied when he stated that “neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both (personal troubles and public issues)”.

As specified earlier, individuals and societies create one another. People create and make up a society. It consists of beliefs, cultures, identities, habits, interactions, behaviors, etc. Yet, our society could either make or break us. Our surroundings shape us and is influential to our identities. It is difficult to understand one if you do not understand the other. Therefore, it is inevitable that the life of an individual and the history of a society will engage with each other.

Charles Wright Mills’s idea of sociological imagination is not only about envisioning, but it is about understanding. The idea of sociological imagination brings awareness; Mills described it as a “quality of mind” where one can apprehend an individual and their societies, history in correlation to biography, personal troubles of milieu linked to public issues of social structure, and so forth. Practicing sociological imagination will open more doors than one had planned. Nevertheless, it starts from a strange route that prompts a way of nature.

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