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Exercising My Sociological Imagination: Culture and Symbols and Mass Media

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Step # 1: Culture, Symbols and the Strange Power of the ‘Evil Eye’

I have selected culture and symbol as a concept to exercise my sociological imagination coined by Herbert Blumer, who founded the symbolic interaction theory (Lectures, 2019a). Culture entails various aspects of social life which are shared by society though intangible and diverse. Elements such as communication, language, beliefs, help to define a group as well as common material objects (Rydzewski, 2017). Although culture connects and inform any particular society, the economic aspect and social structure may have differences (Lectures, 2019b). Culture is significant in shaping relationships, creating social order, experiences as well as actions. Further, the population understanding, prospects, assumptions and common sense add to the culture components. Additionally, culture involves moral that governs the society as well as rules, laws, norms and expressive symbols (lecturer, 2019b).

Symbols are objects though without a meaningful relationship represents abstracts. Individuals in a particular society exemplify various aspects such as spirituality and interest through the use of symbols. A group use symbols to inform meanings and shared systems in a specific culture (lecture, 2019). Further, human beings are born with the capacity to use language symbolically through encoding and communicating with one another. Additionally, symbols are learnt or taught to help biologically unrelated people to connect as well as communicate (Lectures, 2019a).

The symbolic interaction theory contains the following underlying assumptions. The first assumptions inform that the meaning attributed to a thing influence human interaction. The second assumption enlightens that, individual interaction with the society and other population provide sense to various things (Rydzewski, 2017. Further, the last assumption exemplifies that, dealing with specific things enhance clear interpretations of different items in particular

circumstances (Lectures, 2019a). The behaviour of a society, actions, material objects and way of life exemplifies a society culture. Further symbols are an essential aspect of individual life since they make up a distinctive culture such as language, norms, beliefs and values. Moreover, the assumption that culture has a relationship with symbols, it can as well take up different dynamics (Lectures, 2019a).

Step # 2: The Strange Power of the 'evil eye.'

To exercise my imagination about culture and symbols, I have chosen the imagery mythical in the mass media that integrates people’s culture and use of symbols (Lecturer, 2019b). According to Fredrick Thomas Elworthy’s evil eye legend, the superstition explores the various meaning of the eye symbol in a different culture. Elworthy's enlightens that the evil eyes symbol in every culture connects to a legend. The folktales for the Irish culture informs that, men have an evil stare capable of putting horses to death instantly after a single stare. Further, the Greek gorgons have petrifying stare as exemplified by Elwothy’s (Elworthy, 1895).

Although the evil eye symbol has a potential pagan connotation, it is profoundly rooted in a various culture, surprisingly included in the Bible and Koran. The evil eye has gained the support of philosophers with the suggestion that young children and animals have the possibility of being killed by the invisible array of energy and power coming from a human eye. Further, the philosopher adds that specific people from the south of the black sea possess an exceptional ability to fascinate others using their evil eyes (Elworthy, 1895). Additionally, the generic rarity in the Mediterranean Sea, according to the philosopher, provides the blue-eyed people with the ability to curse others using their eyes (Elworthy, 1895).

Elworthy's further, explains that, although people with the evil eye has the capability of harming others in society and beyond, not all individuals with evil eyes are happy and contended 4

that, their eye is inflicting unintended harm in the community. According to the archaic polish folktale, as reported by Elworthy's, an individual decided to remove an evil eye which was perceived to cause harm to his loved ones. Consequently, the firm belief on the existence of evil eyes made the society come up with Nazar amulet to prevent misfortune from evil eye gaze. The charm was first excavated with an incised eyes in Mesopotamia old town, though in an abstract alabaster idol. Additionally, other culture followed suit in an attempt to deal with perceived evil eyes by coming up with various improvement such as glass production by the Asians, glazed mud by Egyptians among others (Elworthy, 1895).

Although the evil eye was an ancient perception, the current generation still engraves the evil eye symbol in things are aeroplanes. Consequently, the evil eye symbol is still a deep-rooted culture in Turkey as a way of protecting newly born from curses. Further, countries which hold sacred places in Judaism and Islam still use evil eye in their fashion, arousing varied fears in cultural in appropriation (Elworthy, 1895). Additionally, famous stars are also embracing evil eye symbols as cultural heritage in their fashion. Consequently, Elwothy’s asserts that, since the evil eye has the possibility of surpassing cultural, geographical, and religion as population embrace it in style, it is of paramount importance to evaluate the past beliefs before adopting the culture (Lecturer, 2019b).

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Step # 3: Analysis

The ability to think on micro and macro levels on sociological imagination, a concept attributed to C. Wright Mills (Scott & Nilsen, 2013). According to Mills, our personal experiences and troubles perception in connection with social issues. Therefore, social reproduction help to expand the concept of culture and symbols (Lecture, 2019d). Social reproduction entails maintaining our place in the social hierarchy through learning. Teaching 5

children to sustain culture and beliefs, which initially term barbaric leads to social reproduction (Lectures, 2019b). The society instils values and beliefs in their children to embrace for the continuity of the community and culture. Further, whatever the mass media promote regardless of the platform employed entice the population to adopt to maintain their social hierarchy in the society (Lectures, 2019b).

Since culture brings connected people together during the performance of specific rituals. Further, the peer group utilize those opportunities to reinforce particular values and beliefs for continuity. Further social reproduction exemplifies that, the difference that exists in socialization demonstrates the gap that exists in society. Therefore, the difference meaning people harbour on various cultural aspects informs their actions. The things that a community participate in doing together in their daily life includes the things they believe in, value, and know (Lecture, 2019c). Although some beliefs which were initially practised based on the culture in the past centuries have been rendered meaningless, other culture still practices because of value attached to the practice. The findings exemplify the relationship that exists between culture, symbols, and mass media (Lectures, 2019c). Moreover, from the symbolic interaction perspective reinforces that, individual’s interaction with society enhances meaning to specific things (Lectures, 2019b).

Step # 3 a Personal Troubles Associated with Evil Eye Symbol

Personal troubles which concern self and private is the first dimension (Lectures, 2019d). The evil eye culture started as an ocular amulet meant to deal with the problems associated with malicious or envious glare. Subsequently, instead of helping to provide a solution, the masses adopted the ocular to come up with an evil eye symbol. The people believed that great success attracts the envy of people with evil eyes. According to Heliodorus , the evil eye has the capability of destroying the people as well as the surrounding environment. Consequently, an 6

irrational belief from and individual resulted in the creation of a deep-rooted culture which people practice even in sacred places (Lectures, 2019b).

Step # 3b: Public Issues of Cultural Symbolic interaction

The social interactionist perspective enlightens that, an individual subjective interpretation of symbols, inform their action due to the meaning they attach to the symbols. Although the evil eyes get attributed to misfortune, the mass media has made the symbol more popular than before. Countries famous stars use the symbols in their historic building as well as in the fashion industry. Further, comic literally work are engraving the symbol in the pages of books (Lectures, 2019d).

Public issues have a possible threat to public value (Lectures, 2019d). Some cultures have attached great value on evil eye symbol particularity in the protection of young children from curses. Further, as social interactionist theorist, enlightened that, there is a possibility of culture crossing geographical and religious boundaries, the mass media has played a crucial role in making the symbol an acceptable cultural practice in many societies across the world. Moreover, there is a tutorial offered to the public on different way to make evil eye ornament through the online platforms (Lecturer, 2019b).

Step # 3c: Questions Required of the Sociological Imagination

The sociological imagination asks three questions, that is symbols and everyday cultural practices, the interaction of people in the society and the meaning of symbols from a cultural perspective (Lectures. 2019d). Consequently, the last question of the sociological imagination addresses the relationship between personal and public issues. The symbols are an essential aspect of culture since they contribute to the creation of norms, beliefs, as well as various practices. Further, society use symbol to communicate or provide an interpretation; thus, the 7 difference between culture and symbol is blurred (Lecturer, 2019a).

Step # 4: Action

Since culture entails shared group values as well as common object and materials shared during rituals, it is challenging to change a society culture. Despite Elworth’s describing in the evil eye as a fantasy centuries ago, the mass media has influenced the popularity of the meaningless superstition. Although some culture dread association with evil eye, some societies strive to pass the practice from one generation to another for continuity. Further, since culture is made up of various people who are distinct in terms of economic and social structure, the economically capable are selling to the masses superstitions branded as evil eyes with power to protect from the evil gaze. According to George Herbert, an individual mind and ego get shaped by society. Further, symbols are a means for communication and thinking as well as the shaping of an individuals mind.

Moreover, the mass media has made it possible for different people with varied culture to interact regardless of the cultural affliction, hence making it possible for a superstitious culture to thrive due to boundary erosion. Irrespective of the value attributed to some cultural practice, the society should evaluate as well as analyses the meaning before passing it to other generation. Further, society needs enlightenment on the dangers of embracing popular culture without ascertaining the meaning. The government may still play a key role in educating the community on the implication of superstitious culture beliefs and practices. 8


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  2. Elworthy, F. T. (1895). The evil eye: the origins and practices of superstition. University Books/Citadel Press.
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  4. Lectures. 2019a. “Sociology 1120: Section symbolic interaction theory Perspective on Culture: Culture.' Langara. The College of Higher Learning. Vancouver, B.C.
  5. Lectures. 2019b. “Sociology 1120: Section on symbolic interaction theory Perspective on symbolic.” Langara. The College of Higher Learning. Vancouver, B.C.
  6. Lectures. 2019c. “Sociology 1120: Section on symbolic interaction theory Perspective on culture Can't.” Langara. The College of Higher Learning. Vancouver, B.C.
  7. Lectures. 2019d. “Sociology 1120: Section on the Sociological Imagination and C. Wright Mills.” Langara. The College of Higher Learning. Vancouver, B.C.
  8. Lectures. 2019e. “Sociology 1120: Section on Culture.” Langara. The College of Higher Learning. Vancouver, B.C.
  9. Scott, J. & Nilsen, A. (2013). C. Wright Mills and the sociological imagination: contemporary perspectives. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
  10. Rydzewski, S. (2017). Introduction to sociology 2E. Place of publication not identified: 12th Media Services.
  11. Comments- i understand the instruction regarding page numbering, and am aware that both the Title Page and Reference Page should be unnumbered. This is an approved WORD 'technical issue'. My paper, if numbered correctly, would show ______ pages of original text, excluding the Title Page and Reference Page.
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