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Sociological imagination was a concept coined by C. Wright Mills in 1959. Mills defined sociological imagination as the way people become aware of themselves and try to relate who they are to the wider society. This includes, how we perceive situations and occurrences in a wider context and see how they influence our daily lives and activities (Conley, 2017). Most importantly, Sociological imagination is meant to reconcile different concepts of reality, that is, the individual person and the society or habitat of said person (Rosich, Hankin 2010). It can also be defined as thinking outside the box. Its able to explain why a life ended up the way it currently is with all the occurrences, failures, and successes.
A good example of sociological imagination behaviors or techniques in real life could be drinking tea. People consider it a global ritual or a natural habit to take tea each day at a specific time. It’s seen as a way of maintaining good health, just as one is advised to take Omega 3 or vitamins. Social activities have also been influenced so that now people ‘meet for tea’ or for coffee. Some people consider it as a type of drug because it contains caffeine and therefore the partaker might be addicted.
The concept Sociological imagination has been of great importance among sociological thinkers in a number of ways. Sociologists conduct research on almost every area concerning human behavior. They are mostly concerned with an individual’s social and cultural structures. Sociological research on how people’s behaviors affect the attitudes and behaviors of larger groups, for instance, has been of great concern among social researchers. The behavior of an individual in groups towards each other is also considered. In short, it’s how people relate socially, how they adapt to a certain area or group.
On the other hand, most health issues and diseases are explainable through lifestyle factors. Sociological research focuses on how the social factors and its conditions affect our health. Sociologists study these factors and conditions, how they affect access to health care and come up with treatments or solutions for different causes. Social structures are made up things that exist and are active whether or not an individual cooperates with them or not. An example is a law; apparently, laws are man-made and are not in any way influenced by what one individual thinks or opinionates. The law is meant to limit what people can do and if not followed there are consequences. They are therefore considered a product of our sociological imagination but they still exist nonetheless.
Identities and experiences affect health outcomes. Sociology helps to understand how people perceive the world to be if one wishes to be someone else or do something another does. Health issues directly affect how one feels about themselves or how others feel about them and if/how they can manage them. Lifestyle factors are therefore a result of these personal and social influences. It’s important to understand why people choose to smoke, use drugs, get stressed to the point of being sick, have eating disorders that eventually lead to obesity and the likes.
Identity is defined as the set of characteristics that an individual has that is socially recognized, and is used to place them as a member of a certain group. Every individual is different and we all have different characteristics and behaviors and all that is considered as a persisting entity, that is, individuality (Conley, 2017). Identity is socially and personally constructed. Identity construction is a slow process that is affected by where we live, what we see or hear, the responses we get from different people and so much more.
Social influences include our families, friends we make, role models, different organizations, school and media which is the biggest known influence on a man (Conley, 2017). Our gender, race, ethnic groups determine whether we have political and social power. This directly affects how we are treated, who gets to become our friends, the kind of jobs we get an educated us are advantaged to have and so much more. This defines who we end up being. If one is condemned and treated indifferently, one will obviously end up arrogant. Social influences can either bring out the best or the worst out of us.
Being sick that is, having been diagnosed with a certain illness affects people differently. Some are able to cope with what has happened while others are unable (Lindner, 2013). Most illnesses are stigmatized, a good example being epilepsy. The public ignores how such conditions attracts negative attitudes and discrimination from them. They end up feeling inferior and unacceptable in the society. It is difficult to present yourself fully when vulnerable and scared about having seizures with no warning. The society teaches you that you should be able to control yourself and being any different carries with it a deep feeling of shame and humiliation.
According to Grusec & Hastings, socialization is the process of adapting and acting in ways that are acceptable to the society and how behavior is determined by beliefs and actions of a particular culture (Grusec & Hastings, 2015). People come from different places, therefore they have different experiences with customs and beliefs. Cultures try to pass along their values and rituals down over to the next generations. Each country teaches its young people something different. For example, in America, the young are taught to believe in the power of self while Japanese believe in the power of group work and help (Grusec & Hastings, 2015). People ascribing to a certain culture are known to believe in a particular religion, and this could eventually play a major role in defining their beliefs. They think and act in a way that is considered acceptable in their religion. For example, Islam affects Muslim countries and they have been able to come up with ways of living that are in accordance to their religion.
Social structure is the way the society has organized people into predictable relationships. (Rusche & Kirchheimer, 1968). Culture assists in fitting people into larger groups. Religion is a set of beliefs that answer the questions related to human existence. It’s a social institution that affects the way people think and react to different situations. Religion, therefore, controls people by enforcing morals and norms that help maintain a good state in the society (Rusche & Kirchheimer, 1968). People are able to express themselves religiously when in groups. It provides a platform that maintains social solidarity through the shared beliefs and rituals.
Socialization is the way in which we interact with each other. How people see you and how they think of you affects greatly who you are and where you fit in. in the world today, it’s rare for a poor or underprivileged person to be friends with a wealthy person. Said person will be forced to interact with people of his/her own status. People become what they are by socialization. This is because they pick up conventional patterns of human behavior from their peers or families. This builds their social structure in a kind of way that reflects who they are.
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