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Concept of the Sociological Imagination in the Context of Social Issues

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We all have imagination. Let us be reactive and envision life in a new way. There is something called sociological imagination. In sociology to understand one's own self, we must understand the relationship between self and society. The concept of the sociological imagination was presented in 1959 by C.Wright Mills in his famous book of the same title where he states the sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society. The concept is to understand the distinction between a person’s troubles and public issues at what point does something such as unemployment or trouble finding a job. If one person is unemployed then that is a personal problem but if one million out of 10 million people cannot find employment that is a public issue.

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According to Mills, there is an intricate relationship between the individual and society. Whatever a person does is not just because it is of their own choice or personal preference. A behaviour as simple as exercise can be looked at from multiple perspectives. For example, exercise can provide health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and maintaining a healthy weight or send endorphins to help alleviate stress. It can also be social activity as taking a walk with a group of friends or plane on a sports team. It can increase productivity at work and benefit the company. It can also inspire communities to take action by building walking, biking and running’s trails. So, while exercise benefit the individual, it also has a larger purpose in the social world. A person benefits from being surrounded by a community that encourages exercise but there are also some persons that does not emphasize exercise. Therefore, any personal behaviour can be looked at with sociological imagination.

There are multiple dimensions of social issues. A few examples are systemic racism, health and wage disparities among racial, ethnic, and gender minorities, and social power hierarchies, childcare, human trafficking, animals right. We probably experience them in everyday day encounters without even knowing it. But, one of the most neglected social issues is - pollution and reckless consumption of natural resources. Many people would not classify this as a ‘social issue’ but it is probably the most important one for everyone. If we do not have an environment where people can live, then how important are the other issues, really? World population is expected to reach about 9 billion by 2050, 86% of this in other word almost eight billion people will be in the developing world. The actual number of people is not itself an issue expect on some very densely settled countries. In world population terms what really matters is a simple ratio 32:1. It represents consumption, and this is where our problem begins. The average rates in which we consume resources such oil and metals and produce waste like plastic in greenhouse gases are 32 times higher in North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australia than they are in the developing world. 32:1 captures the difference in consumption between the first world and the third world. So, the poor of the world logically want to have our standards of living, but the fact is the planet simply does not have enough resource to support such a dream. And so, we are left with a fundamental problem. Therefore, what we should be trying to do is to make consumption rates and living standards more equal around the world and to do it at a level the planet can sustain. Hence, its very important save our natural resources to living a standards life. But, watching how the current use and management of natural resources is affecting the environment around us by changing ecosystem and impacting biodiversity.

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Concept of the Sociological Imagination in the Context of Social Issues. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from
“Concept of the Sociological Imagination in the Context of Social Issues.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
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