Reference no: EM131335485 , Length: 6
Applying the Sociological Imagination Essay
The sociologist C. Wright Mills writes in The Sociological Imagination (1959), "The first fruit of this imagination - and the first lesson of the social science that embodies it - is the idea that the individual can understand her own experience and gauge her own fate only by locating herself within her period, that she can know her own chance in life only by becoming aware of those of all individuals in her circumstances." Mills argues that in the effort to think critically about the social world around us, we need to use our sociological imagination to see the connections between our personal "problems" and the larger forces of history.
Mills maintained throughout The Sociological Imagination that it is very difficult for most individuals in society to link their personal troubles to the socio-cultural institutions in which they live. In this paper, you are to use your sociological imagination to analyze a personal problem, past or present, connecting it to a broader social issue embedded in a social and historical context. For example, you may consider the dynamics of a personal relationship/hardship, your job or lack of a job, family dynamics, juggling work and school, drug or alcohol use/abuse, your body image, or securing school financing.
For those students who are not clear what topics to write on or doubtful if their topics are good to write their essays on, I have a few general pointers for everyone.
Before you select a personal situation/topic, think if you ...
- can write 4-6 pages on that topic.
- will be able to use concepts from at least 3 different Conley chapters while discussing your personal situation.
- can fit in one of the sociological theories we have studied in the text.
- can find research data to support your analysis.
If you can do all the above, then you are good to go.
You have 5 content areas to take care of in this area. They are numbered below.
4 of the 5 areas need to be labeled. The 4th content area which includes use of stats and research material to substantiate your analysis should be integrated within the 3rd content area.
Here is the assignment
#1. First, write an introductory paragraph introducing/defining C.W. Mill's concept of "sociological imagination," and giving a general overview of how you'll be applying it in your paper using a ‘personal' issue of yours.
#2. Second, explain how you are dealing/dealt with the personal issue and label this section "personal explanation"; it can be in the past or in the present. You may think of something that is worrying you now. You can also analyze the situation of a person close to you if their experience affected you and you know it well enough personally to write in depth about it.
Choose a situation that is easily explained through a variety of sociological concepts! Describe what led up to the situation, its resolution if applicable, the whys, who else is involved and what their roles are, etc. How do/did you feel and why? Describe anything else about this situation, the choices you did and didn't make and why, etc. This section should be no longer than four paragraphs (1/2 - 1 page).
In this section you can explain what caused the problem, who all were involved, what were others' and your roles in the situation, and if a resolution was achieved, etc.
Next, you can briefly express how you felt in the situation, why you felt that way, and whatchoices you made given the circumstances. You can use ‘I' here because this section is all about your psychological state; it is personal level account of your emotions and thoughts.
#3. Next, applying your sociological imagination, explain the situation sociologically and how society at large has affected the situation.
This third and major part of your paper should now use #1 (Mills Sociological Imagination) to explain #2 (your personal issue).
That is.... you need to analyze your personal issue/topicin sociological terms.
Label this section "Sociological Imagination"; this section will be most of your paper. Discuss the social forces that connect(ed) your personal situation to larger, related social issues. Use terms and concepts from the different chapters and readings (Conley textbook), the Galen College online library, discussions, and lectures.
When you are writing this section, although you are using Mills SI, it is in fact your SI at work. Therefore, while you are filling up this section, it is up to YOU what concepts you will use.
A student who wants to talk about a problem that she/he might think arose due to gender issues will definitely use concepts from the chapter on gender. If it is a racial issue, the student can make use of the concepts from the ‘race' chapter..... and so on. That is, each student will use concepts that are issue-specific. And your essay should demonstrate the interaction between the social factors (using sociological concepts) and your personal issue clearly.
The highlighted area is the most important outcome expected out of this assignment.
Please integrate the concepts, theory, and stats (from next content area) well into your essay. Having a good flow rather than mentioning them disjointedly (or as separate sections) is important.
For ex: please do not write separate paragraphs with titles such as ‘glass ceiling,' ‘socialization,' ‘stereotyping,' etc. and then write - "Now I am going to use this concept to explain my essay.'
You may need to emphasize some parts of your situation over others in order to include a variety of complex concepts. Your sociological imagination analysis should include as many concepts as applicable.
#4. Cite as many social trends and statistics (from the Conley text, outside sources, discussions, and lectures) relevant to your situation (Depending on your topic, examples can include - divorce rates for various social categories of people, poverty rates, crime and victimization rates, suicide rates, unemployment rates, etc.). You may need to do some outside research to find relevant statistics. You may also need to research within our textbook for sections you are not required to read - make good use of the index and the online library! Cite the pages your information is from within your paper. If you desire, you may use statistics found on websites, but this is not a requirement.
This part of your paper requires that you step-up your explanations a little more into the macro-level. You are asked to do this by showing how #3 (what and how some social factors played a role in your personal issue) is in turn affected by national/global trends/changes.
A hypothetical situation would be.....
- a divorce in the family (#2 - personal issue),
- reason is losing job + increased stress + family fights, etc. (#3 - social concepts such as downward class mobility, role strain, etc.),
- which actually could be due to outsourcing of jobs (when rates of global shifts in the job markets, unemployment rates are sited, you cover #4 ).
You can see how the transition is proceedingfrom a personal to a social to a national/global level.
Ability to view this kind of interaction between micro and macro level events is CW Mills "Sociological imagination" at work.
You need to do a bit of research on social trends and get statistical facts relevant to your issue. For the above hypothetical situation, you may want to see the difference in the divorce rates before and after the economic crash, the % growth in joblessness, etc. and use that information in your explanations.
#5. Label and write a wrap-up conclusion paragraph summarizing the major finding/themes in your paper.
Things to remember:
Avoid a focus on individualistic & psychological explanations about stress, personal emotions, feelings, personal achievements, and characteristics, etc. except in the 2nd content area.
Refer specifically to information discussed in class, in the texts, and readings and link as many social trends, statistics, cultural values, social policies, or group dynamics as possible to your situation!
Your grade is determined by how well you can utilize the terminology and language of sociology you are learning in this course.
Use a critical reflexive style - write in the first person and include yourself in your paper.