Applying sociological imagination
A girl tries to lose weight to look desirable according to the perception of the society. She wishes to look thin and fair, but somehow she cannot achieve this look. Now she goes into a chronic depression. In order to be thin, she becomes anorexic and experiences severe health problems. Now, when we apply sociological imagination, we would realize that it is the obsession of society in general for fair skin and thin body that has directly affected this girl. It is the media that represents society, portrays beautiful and desirable girls as thin and fair. This kind of representation affects many people directly and indirectly as it happened in case of a thin girl. If only a few girls suffered anorexia in society then we could have called it an individual or personal problem.
What is sociological imagination?
It is the ability to see or note the peculiar in familiar activities of everyday life and to link delicate troubles to public concerns, which makes a profile of many people. Sociological imagination helps an individual to understand society in which they live in by moving the individual away the truth and observing outside the image itself. Sociological imagination is capability of differentiating delicate troubles and social issues. As Mills had said, “the sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within the society”. Nowadays people often feel that their private lives are a sequence of deception. Sociological imagination is the ability to change from one perspective to another. To have a sociological imagination, a person must be able to pull away from the condition and think from another point of view. It wants us to “think ourselves away from our daily routines and look at them anew”. To obtain knowledge, it is important to break free from the imminence of personal conditions and put things into a broader context, rather than following a routine.
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 within their time period. 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.
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”. He eventually became disappointed with his profession of sociology because he felt it was abandoning its responsibilities, which he criticized in his 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”.
Importance of sociological imagination
Each and every one of us is heavily influenced by the society in which we live. This type of imagination is incredibly important. We do not have a lot of hands on personal experience in pretty much everything in our lives, for example when I see a rainbow, my explanation of this phenomenon purely is based on some lessons I learnt when I was a high school student, principles such as Snell’s law and diffraction comes to mind. I do not a personal understanding as to why rainbows are more circular than they are arcs. If I did not have these science lessons, I would perhaps resort to religious explanation, that rainbows are a sign from God. Without sociological imagination or alternative perspectives to any given social phenomenon, we will only resort to what some people tell us, but not sharing perspectives of other people.
Sociological imagination is to place oneself outside of everyday routines and to be able to view one’s actions or life from third party perspective. It allows one to make more self-aware decisions rather than be swayed by social norms or factors that may otherwise dictate actions. Lack of sociological imagination can render people very apathetic.