So let’s go with the first explanation that you need a new pair of running shoes. Where did you learn it? Our first step toward using the sociological imagination is asking yourself ‘why?’ Well, so you can go running, of course! Why is that? Learn more about F. Scott Fitzgerald's take on the American Dream from our guide. Melissa Brinks graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a Bachelor's in English with a creative writing emphasis. To train your sociological imagination, get into the habit of asking questions about behavior that seems “normal” to you. You don’t need a huge vocabulary or a deep understanding of sociological texts—just the willingness to step outside of your own viewpoint and consider the world in context. The sociological imagination by Mills provides a framework for understanding our social world that far surpasses any common sense notion we might derive from our limited social experiences. How Can You Use It? His challenge to the field helped reshape it into something that is concerned with the macro as well as the micro. Another aspect to the sociological imagination on which Mills laid the most emphasis was our possibilities for the future. When we understand historical and social contexts, we’re better equipped to look at our actions and the actions of our community as a result of systems—which can be changed—rather than as inherent to humanity. He shocked us out of our Silent Generation torpor by pounding his desk and proclaiming that every man should build his own house (as he himself did a few years later) and that, by God, with the proper study, we should each be able to build our own car! The concept of the sociological imagination can be applied to any behavior. In another culture or even another part of your city, a person who is very similar to you might choose a different food because of what’s familiar to them. The goal is not to be dispassionate and distant, but rather to see yourself not as “natural” or “normal,” as a part of larger systems, the same way that all people are. In other cultures, however, marijuana use is tolerated, but both coffee and alcohol consumption is frowned upon. But why do you want to go running, as opposed to any other form of exercise? It wasn’t until the 17th and 18th centuries that love became a reason to marry, thanks to the Enlightenment idea that lives should be dedicated to pursuing happiness. The sociological imagination is making the connection between personal challenges and larger social issues. While Mills’s work was not well received at the time as a result of his professional and personal reputation—he had a combative personality—The Sociological Imagination is today one of the most widely read sociology books and is a staple of undergraduate sociology courses across the United States. The Sociological Imagination contained tips for sociologists as well as the general public to help them better contextualize the world! Sociological imagination. Many people blame themselves for their lack of a job, but there are societal factors at play, too. If there was a lot of crime in your area, running might be an unsafe method of exercise. Take the simple act of drinking a cup of coffee. Get Free Guides to Boost Your SAT/ACT Score, Mills believed that social structures arise because of conflict between groups, in ancient Rome one politician was ousted from the Senate for having the gall to kiss his wife in public, One of his former students wrote about how Mills stood in contrast, voted as the second most important sociological text of the 20th century, F. Scott Fitzgerald's take on the American Dream, high school history classes you should take. What ACT target score should you be aiming for? You can trace this kind of thinking backward and consider your personal history, your family history, and the surrounding cultural context (not all cultures celebrate Christmas, of course!) Marriage for love is the norm in American culture, so we assume that the same is true and always has been true. According to C. Wright Mills, creator of the idea of sociological imagination, if we accept that our beliefs, traditions, and actions are all normal and natural, we are less likely to interrogate when our leaders and community members do things that are immoral. Mills had this to say about the family: “Insofar as the family as an institution turns women into slaves and men into their chief providers and unweaned … Sociological Imagination by Charles Wright Mills: Charles Wright Mills (1916-1962) was an American sociologist and anthropologist. Probably from your ancestors, who may have been more devout than your current family. In fact, Mills is sometimes heralded to be ahead of his time, as the values he espoused about human connection and societal issues were prominent thoughts in the 1960s, just after his death. A sociological investigation of coffee reveals that there are many social processes associated with the act. That meant looking at human experience on an individual and societal level, as well as within a specific and broad historical context. In this sense, using a sociological imagination lets you look at yourself and your culture as a third-party observer. One of Mills’ biggest points was that an individual problem is often also a societal problem. During his time, many sociologists engaged in a sort of top-down view of the world, focusing on systems rather than on individuals. To have a sociological imagination, a person must be able to pull away from the situation and think from an alternative point of view. Mills referred to the tendency of sociologists to think in abstraction “grand theory.” This tendency led to sociologists of the time being more concerned with organization and taxonomy over understanding—because Mills was so concerned with the experience of the individual as well as the experience of the whole, this contributed to his feeling that the sociological field was too far removed from the actual humans that comprise society. A good understanding of history is one of the core pieces to a good sociological imagination. Why new running shoes rather than used ones? The sociological imagination is the ability to see things socially and how they interact and influence each other. The sociological imagination is important in today’s society because it allows us to see where our society fits into the broader spectrum of human history. He believed that history is comprised of both the big and small, and that study of each is required for a robust field. Societal context tells us about our culture—when we consider it, we think about how our desires, actions, and thoughts are shaped by our community and how that community is changing. If you lived in a poorer area, designer shoes may not even be available to you. The societal imagination encourages people to think about their lives not just on an individual level, but also considering societal, biological, and historical context. Early sociological theorists, like Marx, Weber, and Durkheim, were concerned with the phenomena they believed to be driving social change in their time. In doing so, Mills challenged the dominant ideas within sociology and critiqued some of the most basic terms and definitions. Zoom out more, and you might realize that fish isn’t even on the menu for some cultures because of societal taboos or restrictions. Biological context tells us about how “human nature” impacts our desires and needs. Check out our top-rated graduate blogs here: © PrepScholar 2013-2018. 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