Sociological Imagination

Sociological Imagination is an interaction between an individual and social forces. The social environment consists of social structures that shape the behavior of an individual or a group of individuals. Sociological situations play out to how people differ in terms of the places in given social or historical circumstances. Knowing our history effects us today, as well as the greater meaning and connection of world events.

To understand sociological imagination you can take any individual problem or situation and try to trace the root cause of the problem in society and find how this issue is developed. For example; increasing divorces, farmers committing suicide or increased drug use. Many of these so-called personal problems and are directly or indirectly affected by large-scale social forces, be it the government, globalization or consumerism. It is clear from the above examples; sociological imagination influence individual behavior and actions of people living in that society.

Looking beyond everyday routine is a cause for daily success and failure and to see the world where one lives as a potential cause for such things. People often lack the perspective to understand the things that happen in their everyday lives and that they are not familiar with the forces at play in the greater society, history and the world. C Wright Mills argues that the dilemma many individuals face is one of the feelings that their private everyday lives are a series of traps that they are ill equipped to overcome. Wars, economic cycles and social change have dramatic determining effects and people need to distinguish between personal troubles and public issues. It is impossible to understand ones own life without understanding the society and history in which one is situated. We should not judge, we should understand. It is not about criticizing others for what they have done, it is about judging ourselves and understanding ourselves.

The promise of sociological imagination is that is allows us to understand history and biography. It allows the sociologist to study the relationship between the two. It will help us to understand the forces of politics, business and culture that intersect with lives. This will then allow us to take action and make changes. To think outside the box and as C Wright Mills describes “the ability to think yourself away from the familiar routines of everyday life”.