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Sociological imagination

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The term sociological imagination was coined by the American sociologist C. Wright Mills in 1959 to describe the type of insight offered by the discipline of sociology. The term is used in introductory textbooks in sociology to explain the nature of sociology and its relevance in daily life.
Contents
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1 Differing definitions can differ in different social circles and are not agreed upon 2 Sociological perspective 3 Uses of sociological imagination in films 4 See also 5 References 6 Further reading 7 External links

Differing definitions can differ in different social circles and are not agreed upon[edit]
Sociologists differ in their understanding of the concept, but the range suggests several important commonalities. Matt, Mills defined sociological imagination as "the vivid awareness of the relationship between experience and the wider society."[citation needed] Sociological Imagination: The application of imaginative thought to the asking and answering of sociological questions. Someone using the sociological imagination "thinks himself away" from the familiar routines of daily life.[1] Another way of describing sociological imagination is the understanding that social outcomes are shaped by social context, actors, and social actions. To expand on that definition, it is understanding that some things in society may lead to a certain outcome. The actors mentioned in the definition are things like norms and motives, the social context are like

country and time period and the social action is the stuff we do that affects other people. The things we do are shaped by: the situation we are in, the values we have, and the way people around us act. These things are examined to how they all relate to some sort of outcome. Sociological imagination can also be considered as the capacity to see things socially, how they interact, and influence each other. Things that shape these outcomes include (but are not limited to): social norms, what people want to gain out of something (their motives for doing something), and the social context in which they live (ex.- country, time period, people with whom they associate). Basically, as an aspect of sociological imagination, what people do is shaped by all these things that result in some sort of outcome. The sociological imagination is the ability to see things socially and how they interact and influence each other. To have a sociological imagination, a person must be able to pull away from the situation and think from an alternative point of view. It requires to "think ourselves away from our daily routines and look at them anew". To acquire knowledge, it is important to break free from the immediacy of personal circumstances and put things into a wider context, rather than following a routine. The actions of people are much more important than the acts themselves. Sociological imagination is the capacity to shift from one perspective to another. Mills believed in the power of the sociological imagination to connect "personal troubles to public issues." There is an urge to know the historical and sociological meaning of the singular individual in society, particularly in the period in which he has his quality and his being. To do this one may use the sociological imagination to better understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner self and external career of a variety of individuals.[2] Another perspective is that Mills chose sociology because he felt it was a discipline that ...could offer the concepts and skills to expose and respond to social injustice.[3] He eventually became disappointed with his profession of sociology because he felt it was abandoning its responsibilities, which he criticized in his classic The Sociological

Imagination. In some introductory sociology classes, the sociological imagination is brought up, along with Mills and how he characterized the sociological imagination as a critical quality of mind that would help men and women "to use information and to develop reason in order to achieve lucid summations of what is going on in the world and of what may be happening within themselves."[4]

Sociological perspective[edit]
A related term, the sociological perspective, was thought of by Peter L. Berger. He stated that the sociological perspective was seeing "the general in the particular" and that it helped sociologists realize general patterns in the behaviour of specific individuals.[5] One can think of sociological perspective as our own personal choice and how the society plays a role in shaping our individual lives.[5]

Uses of sociological imagination in films[edit]


The advantages of using popular films to enhance students' comprehension of sociological topics is widely recognized. Those who teach courses in social problems report using films to teach about war, to aid students in adopting a global perspective and to confront issues of race relations. There are benefits of using film as part of a multimedia approach to teaching courses in popular culture. It also provides students of medical sociology with case studies for hands-on observational experiences. It acknowledges the value of films as historical documentation of changes in cultural ideas, materials, and institutions. Feature films are used in introductory sociology courses to demonstrate the current relevance of sociological thinking and to show how the sociological imagination helps us make sense of our social world. The underlying assumption is that the sociological imagination is best developed and exercised in the introductory class by linking new materials in the context of conflict theory and functionalism.

See also[edit]

sociological theory

References[edit]

1. 2.

^ Glidden A12

[title missing][when?][page needed]

^ Mills, C. Wright.The Sociological Imagination (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1959),5,7.Print

3.

^ Rose K. Goldsen, Mills and the Profession of Sociology, in The New Sociology, ed. Irving Lewis Horowitz (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964), 5. Print.

4.

^ Keen, Mike Forrest. Stalking the Sociological Imagination: J. Edgar Hoover's FBI Surveillance of American Sociology. Westport, Conn: Greenwood, 1999. Print.

5.

a b

John J. Macionis, Linda M. Gerber, "Sociology", Seventh

Canadian Edition, Pearson Canada

Web. 23 Feb. 2012. <http://www.sociological-imagination.org/>. Spot.Colorado.edu. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. <http://spot.colorado.edu/~wehr/301RD1.TXT>.

Further reading[edit]

Mills, C. W.: 1959, The Sociological Imagination, Oxford University Press, London.

Earl Gooby, 'The Practice of Social Research', 10th edition, Wadsworth, Thomson Learning Inc., ISBN 0-534-62029-9

Michael Hughes, Carolyn J. Kroehler, James W. Vander Zanden. 'Sociology: The Core', McGraw-Hill, ISBN 0-07-240535-X Online chapter summary

Judith Bessant and Rob Watts, 'Sociology Australia' (2nd ed), Allen & Unwin, 2001. ISBN 1-86508-612-6

Laurie Gordy and Alexandria Peary, 'Bringing Creativity into the Classroom: Using Sociology to Write First-Person Fiction.' Teaching Sociology. Vol. 33, 2005 (October: 396-402).

Ray Jureidini and Marilyn Poole, 'Sociology' (3rd ed), Allen & Unwin 2002. ISBN 978-1-86508-896-9

Joel Charon, 'Ten Questions: A Sociological Perspective', Fourth Edition. Wadsworth, 2000.

Earl Babbie, 'The Practice of Social Research', 10th edition, Wadsworth, Thomson Learning Inc., ISBN 0-534-62029-9

The Sociological Perspective: University of Missouri The Sociological Perspective Giddens, Anthony. "Sociological Imagination." Introduction to Sociology . 1996. Karl Bakeman. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc, 1996. Print. ISBN 978-0-393-93232-4

Using the Feature Film to Facilitate Sociological Thinking

External links[edit]

Excerpt from C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination A Mills Revival? by S .Aronowitz Contemporary Analysis of C. Wright Mills On Intellectual Craftsmanship from Sociological Imagination (pdf mirror)

Sociological Imagination in life events The Sociological Imagination [1]

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Social Imagination
Social imagination allows us to understand and predict other people's behaviour, make sense of abstract ideas, and to imagine situations outside our immediate daily routine. People with autism follow routines rigidly and favour predictability. Those who experience challenges with social imagination may find it difficult to:

determine and interpret other people's thoughts, feelings and actions; foresee what will or might occur next; identify hazards; engage in imaginative play and activities. Children with autism may enjoy some imaginative play but have a strong preference to act out familiar scenes; prepare for change and plan for the future; cope in new or unfamiliar situations which may result in the person becoming stressed; appreciate other people may not be interested in their topic of interest which they talk obsessively about; and attempt work if they feel they are unable to do it perfectly. Difficulties with social imagination should not be mistaken with a lack of imagination. Many people with autism are very creative and go on to become accomplished artists, musicians or writers. The Sociological Imagination is a book written by sociologist C. Wright Mills in 1959. His goal in writing this book was to try to reconcile two different and abstract concepts of social reality the "individual" and "society." In doing so, Mills challenged the dominant sociological discourse and critiqued some of the most basic terms and definitions. While Mills work was not well received at the time as a result of his professional and personal reputation, The Sociological Imagination is still one of the most widely read sociology books today and is a staple of undergraduate sociology courses.

Mills spends the beginning of the book aggressively attacking current (at the time) trends in sociology and then goes on to explain sociology as he sees it: a necessary political and historical profession. He lays the groundwork for an ideal social science in his mind. Without reproducing the entirety of his book, it would be impossible to adequately relate his framework. The most basic and important points here are keeping an eye to history and to agency, and avoiding strict adherence to any one methodology or any one theory. He also urges social scientists to work within the field as a whole rather than specializing heavily in sociology, political science, economics, psychology, etc. Mills imagines the human being as both a creature and an agent of the individual's milieu as well as of history. This is a key concept, which is often overlooked in social science. The Sociological Imagination As A Concept In The Sociological Imagination, Mills coined the same famous phrase, which is used throughout sociology today. The sociological imagination is the concept of being able to think ourselves away from the familiar routines of our daily lives in order to look at them anew. Mills defined sociological imagination as the vivid awareness of the relationship between experience and the wider society. It is the ability to see things socially and how they interact and influence each other. T o have a sociological imagination, a person must be able to pull away from the situation and think from an alternative point of view. Example Of Applying The Sociological Imagination We can apply the concept of the sociological imagination to any behavior. Take the simple act of drinking a cup of coffee for example. We could argue that coffee is not just a drink, but rather it has symbolic value as part of day-to-day social rituals. Often the ritual of drinking coffee is much more important than the act of consuming the coffee itself. For example, two people who meet to have coffee together are probably more interested in meeting and chatting than in what they drink. In all societies, eating and drinking are occasions for social interaction and the performance of rituals, which offer a great deal of subject matter for sociological study. A second dimension to a cup of coffee has to do with its use as a drug. Coffee contains caffeine, which is a drug that has stimulating effects on the brain. For many, this is the reason why they drink coffee. It is interesting sociologically to question why coffee addicts are not considered drug users in Western cultures while they might be in other cultures. Like alcohol, coffee is a socially acceptable drug whereas marijuana is not. In other cultures, however, marijuana use is tolerated, but both coffee and alcohol use are frowned upon. Still a third dimension to a cup of coffee is tied to social and economic relationships. The growing, packaging, distributing, and marketing of coffee are global enterprises that affect many cultures, social groups, and organizations within those cultures. These things often take place thousands of miles away from the coffee drinker. Many aspects of our lives are now affected by worldwide trading exchanges and communications and studying these global transactions is important to sociologists. A fourth dimension to a cup of coffee relates to past social and economic development. The coffee relationships currently set in motion were not always there. Like tea, bananas, potatoes, and sugar, coffee only became widely consumed after the nineteenth century. These relationships developed gradually, and might well break down in the future due to change. Possibilities For The Future There is another aspect to the sociological imagination which Mills discussed in his book and which he laid the most emphasis, which is our possibilities for the future. Sociology not only helps us analyze current and existing patterns of social life, but it also helps us to see some of the possible futures open to us. Through the sociological imagination, we can see not only what is the case, but also what could become the case should we desire to make it that way.

The Sociological Imagination The term sociological imagination was coined by the American sociologist C. Wright Mills 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.[1] It is the capacity to shift from one perspective to anotherfrom the political to the psychological; from examination of a single family to comparative assessment of the national budgets of the world; from the theological school to the military establishment; from considerations of an oil industry to studies of contemporary poetry. The individual who applies the sociological imagination, as Anthony Giddens[2] has put it, is one is able to put him/herself away from the familiar routine of his/her own experiences with daily life. The sociological imagination may also be defined as the capacity to see how sociological situations play out due to how people differ in terms of their places in given social or historical circumstances. It is a way of thinking about things in society that have led to some sort of outcome, and understanding what causes led to that outcome. Things that shape these outcomes include (but are not limited to), social norms, what people want to gain out of something (their motives for doing something), the social context they are in country, time period, people they associate themselves with). Basically, what we do, who we are and who we become are shaped by all these factors that result in some sort of outcome. Functionally, the sociological imagination is the ability to see things socially and how they interact and influence each other. To have a sociological imagination, an individual needs to be able to pull him/herself away from the situation and to be able to think from an alternative point of view. It requires us to "think ourselves away from our daily routines and look at them anew". To acquire knowledge, it is important to not follow a routine, you have to break free from the immediacy of personal circumstances and put things into a wider context. The actions of people are much more important than the act itself. In this regard, the sociological imagination involves the understanding that social outcomes are shaped by social context, actors, culture, history and social actions. The sociological imagination thus includes the understanding of the interconnections that inform the fabric of human societies. In other words, he 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. Thus, the Sociological Imagination can also be considered as the ability to see things interactively, between the personal and the societal, rather than from the narrow lens of personal experience. As such, the sociological imagination is the capacity to shift from one perspective to another. To be able to do so, Mills believed, would enable individual to use the sociological imagination to connect "personal troubles to public issues." The advantages of using popular films to enhance students' comprehension of sociological topics is widely recognized. Those who teach courses in social problems report using films to teach about war, to aid students in adopting a global perspective and to confront issues of race relations. There are benefits of using film as part of a multimedia approach to teaching courses in popular culture. For instance, this approach provides students in disciplines such as of medical sociology with case studies for hands-on observational experiences. It acknowledges the value of films as historical documentation of changes in cultural ideas, materials, and institutions. Feature films are used to demonstrate the relevance of sociological thinking and to show how the sociological imagination helps us make sense of our social world. ___________________

The Sociological Imagination


The sociological imagination is the ability to situate personal troubles within an informed framework of larger social processes.

1. fig. 1

mile Durkheim

Emile Durkheim was one of the founders of sociology.


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Because they tried to understand the larger processes that were affecting their own personal experience of the world, it might be said that the founders ofsociology, like Marx, Weber, and Durkheim, exercised what C. Wright Mills later called the sociological imagination. C. Wright Mills, a prominent mid-20th century American sociologist, described the sociological imagination as the ability to situate personal troubles and life trajectories within an informed framework of larger social processes. Other scholars after Mills have employed the phrase more generally, as the type of insight offered by sociology and its relevance in daily life. Another way of describing sociological imagination is the understanding that social outcomes are shaped by social context, actors, and social actions.
the sociological imagination

Coined by C. Wright Mills, the sociological imagination is the ability to situate personal troubles and life trajectories within an informed framework of larger social processes.

EXAMPLES

An analogy can help us better understand what Mills meant by the sociological immagination. Think of a fish swimming in the ocean. That fish is surrounded by water, but the water is so familiar and commonplace to the fish that, if asked to describe its situation, the fish could hardly be expected to describe the water as well. Similarly, we all live in a social milieu, but because we are so intimately familiar with it, we cannot easily study it objectively. The sociological imagination takes the metaphorical fish out of the water. It allows us to look on ourselves and our social surroundings in a reflective way and to question the things we have always taken for granted.

1. fig. 2

mile Durkheim

Emile Durkheim was one of the founders of sociology.


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2. fig. 3

Karl Marx

Karl Marx, another one of the founders of sociology, used his sociological imagination to understand and critique industrial society.
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The Sociological Imagination

Early sociological theorists, like Marx (Figure 2), Weber, and Durkheim (Figure 1)), were concerned with the phenomena they believed to be driving social change in their time. Naturally, in pursuing answers to these large questions, they received intellectual stimulation. These founders of sociology were some of the earliest individuals to employ what C. Wright Mills (a prominent mid-20th century American sociologist) would later call the sociological imagination: the ability to situate personal troubles and life trajectories within an informed framework of larger social processes. The term sociological imagination describes the type of insight offered by the discipline of sociology. While scholars have quarreled over interpretations of the phrase, it is also sometimes used to emphasize sociology's relevance in daily life.

C. Wright Mills
In describing the sociological imagination, Mills asserted the following. "What people need... is a quality of mind that will help them to use information and to develop reason in order to achieve lucid summations of what is going on in the world and of what may be happening within themselves. 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." Mills believed in the power of the sociological imagination to connect "personal troubles to public issues." As Mills saw it, the sociological imagination helped individuals cope with the social world by enabling them to step outside their own, personal, self-centered view of the world. By employing the sociological imagination, individual people are forced to perceive, from an objective position, events and social structures that influencebehavior, attitudes, and culture. In the decades after Mills, other scholars have employed the term to describe the sociological approach in a more general way. Another way of defining the sociological imagination is the understanding that social outcomes are shaped by social context, actors, and actions.