Social Imagination by Wright Mills
In the excerpt, The Sociological Imagination by C. Wright Mills, Mills describes the sociological imagination as the capacity to “… understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external career of a variety of individuals.” In simpler words, the sociological imagination is the ability to see the relation between the social forces and the personal actions of individuals. For example, if a person tried to lose weight to look accordingly to the concept of society but isn’t able to achieve this goal, it can lead to the person falling into depression and becoming anorexic. This can seem like a personal trouble but when we apply sociological imagination, we can come to the realization that its the obsession of society in general that the perfect person has fair skin and a thin body which lead many people becoming anorexic which then becomes a social issue.
Sociological imagination can be useful to find long-term solutions to some of the serious individual problems by connecting a personal problem to a more social wide situation. It is also important to be able to understand the societal issues that are affecting us and allows us to be more self-aware of our decisions rather than being influenced by social standards that can then control our actions. A personal trouble occurs on a more individual level and is normally within the ability to control while a public issues go beyond the control of an individual and are interests or values that can be felt to be threatening. C. Wright Mills explains personal troubles as an occurrence within the individual and his or her surroundings or immediate relations with others such as family or friends. According to Mills, personal troubles have to do with one’s self and with those limited areas of social life with which an individual is directly aware of and has control over.
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On the other hand, he explains social issues as a public matter and some principles esteemed by society are felt to be threatening. This distinction is very essential because once it is understood, it requires us to look beyond them and to be aware of the relation between personal experience and society. One of my personal troubles that can actually be part of a public issue is attending college. Attending college was not my top priority after I graduated high school but I was told by many people that without a degree, I would get nowhere without a well-paying job. Attending college and getting a degree that can guarantee a good job or not attending college and find a minimum paid job can seem like a personal trouble but when we apply sociological imagination we can see how many well-paid jobs require much more than a high school diploma which is why many people are either unemployed or work day and night to be able to live an average life.
They live to work instead of working to live; this means that their main life priority is to work instead of working to be able to live their best life. In my case, I wanted to be able to be financially stable and stress-free which is why college was my only option. Attending college is the only financial stability that one can receive which is why getting a higher education is more of a necessity than a choice in today’s society.