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Possibilities of Application of Sociological Imagination: Analytical Essay

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The sociological imagination is a tool that allows us to examine education inequality and its impacts on women in a way that provides an extensive and thorough understanding of the link between private struggles and broader social patterns. Using the sociological imagination enables sociologists to have the capacity to make the familiar unfamiliar and critically analyse how private struggles are impacted and influenced by broader social patterns. When applying the sociological imagination tool to the impact of unequal norms on women's lives, it is discovered that the commonly viewed private issues inclusive of unemployment, poor health – physically and sexually, early pregnancy and the inability to stand up for own rights are a reflection of public, broader issues in society. These broader patterns include the ideology of males viewed as superior to women, which is the common reason for child marriages, higher rates of HIV contraction in women compared to men ending in mortality, and high numbers of women within domestic violence injuries and death categories. The sociological imagination allows us to engage the sociological tools of agency and structure, and analyse how these interact with each other causing broader issues. For example, the current social structure, in its whole, consists predominately of male expectations and the belief of male superiority, resulting in impacts against women's agency in multifarious ways and pushes them to engage in self-surveillance continually. When critically thinking about the current 21st-century social structure, which values and encourages the belief of male superiority over the female population, sociologists can start to understand by what means sexually harassing women is seen as a way of expressing masculinity. It is also uncovered how this normalised behaviour and male culture consequently impacts women's agency as they attempt to avoid situations where males gather in groups, male-dominated work fields, male grouped areas in nightclubs, and fields of study, for example.

Raewyn Connell's published sociological works regarding hegemonic masculinity help give insight into how male power is heavily embedded into social structures, allowing and causing the reproduction of male domination to occur. Connell's work published in the 1990s allows for trends of broader social patterns to be observed over different periods. It remains evident through the use of Connell's work that the impact of embedding male dominance into the social structure has on gender orders of the Western 21st century is salient. It is the impact on the gender order that Connell's work identifies that contributes to the basis of this essay's focus on how unequal social expectations and beliefs strengthen education inequality. Hegemonic masculinity is a crucial piece to the understanding of why society holds the belief of male superiority over women.

When looking at the 21st-century social structure, using the sociological imagination, it enables observation of how viewing men as the more essential beings, imposes limits on a women's agency in terms of education and careers. Society views women who are in STEM fields a minority, successful mothers as people who struggle to balance their work-life balance, and within developing countries, it can be observed women are not viewed as worthy of education at all because their role is still considered to be within the home and to raise a family. It is these socially constructed beliefs that impact women's choices in work fields or if women gain an education at all. When examining the empirical data, some unsettling facts start to uncover themselves; 130 million girls worldwide are out of school, and attacks on schools increased 17 times between 2000-2014 with girls' schools targeted more than three times as often as male schools. We see that 340,000 women and young females are impacted by HIV globally, which is 1.62% higher than the male population. However, only 3 in 10 females are given adequate education on HIV and have accurate knowledge of the impacts and causes of HIV, leading to the inability to protect themselves from contracting the disease with the use of safe sex practices. Data also uncovers that the iron-deficient condition of anemia affects twice as many women as men. We see globally, 44% of women aged 15-19 believe husbands are entitled to be physically violent towards his wife, and 104 countries still hold laws that prevent women from pursuing specific careers. Evidence is also presented to show that the low statistics of women visible in male-dominated fields face a battle with identity threats towards themselves and the men they work alongside. The consequences these identify threat causes for females in male-dominated fields show females seek female associated fields to allow them to keep their femininity and avoid being viewed as a masculine woman and subjected to sexual harassment. Women express experiencing the feeling of their skills being the reason society views women as a whole category incompetent to complete male viewed roles. Women individually seek out less identity threatening work fields that fit the current social norms women are expected to fulfill; caring and nurturing. These personal choices are the reason why society sees the broader social pattern of more substantial groups of women in teaching and nursing positions. Women regularly engage in self-surveillance when in male fields and, more often than not, oversimplify themselves to keep their social identity of being feminine and avoid threatening male's masculinity.

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When looking at the quantitative data of women in different fields in Australia, we uncover that Australian women make up 68% of all carers and 70% of all primary unpaid carers of children. These statistics represent how it proves through observation that women, even in today's society, continue to feel pressured to engage in work roles consistent with the norms and expectations of women, these including being nurturing and more useful within the house. We uncover that even though women make up 45.7% of all employees, only 33% of the whole female employed category is in a management position. In the perceived masculine field of construction, we see only 11.8% of all employed are female, with 16% of those women being in management positions. Women make up only 15.1% of employees in mining industries, with 13% being managers. Utility roles are seeing the highest percent of women employees, with 22.6% and 16% of these women being managers. The Harvard Implicit Association Test carried out testing on over half a million people worldwide, also finding that over 70% of people associated males with science and females with art, reinforcing the idea of how socially constructed ideologies on what is perceived as a male or female role, have resulting consequences on how women utilise their agency. The sociological tools of structure and agency allow for the understanding of why women view male-dominated fields to hold the culture of sexually harassing behaviours, bullying, and discrimination, and this is because these behaviours are a socially accepted way of displaying masculinity. These socially acceptable behaviours reinforce male superiority over women and are the cause of why women will tend to avert from male-dominated fields and use their agency to avoid places where men congregate.

When looking into social theories as to why society places men as superior to women, there is a need to examine patterns in history. When looking at the pre-industrialised societies, the need for the division of powers is evident. When thinking about the 'nuclear family' ideology of the time, it is seen that the ideal family contained a dominant male who carried out the manual jobs and a submissive woman who stayed inside the house. However, this trend can be debunked as being the reason we still hold the social belief of a women's place being within the home, as when the industrial period began, women were required outside the home and to engage in previously male-dominated fields as the male population were away at war. A strong reason why society still holds the belief that women are inferior outside the home is due to the social norms and expectations individuals are accustomed to being acquired from peer interaction. Younger generations, especially males, observe how their senior figures interact with other males and females and carry this through to their life and beliefs. Males are forced from a young age, predominantly from other male peers, to prove their masculinity, which is mainly shown through sexual interactions, no matter if they or the women enjoy it. This pressure instills into men that their private wants are more important than a women's, leading to the broader issues of deaths and injuries caused by domestic violence, sexual harassment, and the overwhelming figure that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted compared to the 1 in 20 men figure. However, it is essential to note that even in sexually violent assaults against men, the perpetrators of the crime are overwhelmingly men.

When applying Mary Holmes' idea of optimistic sociology, it can assist in ways to understand the experiences women face not just as social issues but in a way that allows society to respond in a way that strives for social change. It allows for the critical analysis of how the inequality of social norms and expectations could be otherwise. When looking at education inequality, society has seen a vast improvement within 1995-2018 inclusive of fewer mothers dying in childbirth; the gap was narrowed by 52%, and female literacy improving with the gap being narrowed by 41%, in 2016 83% of women globally were literate compared to 61% in the 1970s. As it happens, society has also seen more women in senior executive positions, the gap narrowed by 38%, and the global unweighted average share of senior and middle management positions was 32.2% in 2016 compared to 21% in 1995.

However, it is crucial to understand current social norms are unlikely to change unless society revises three main areas. These areas are inclusive of existing underlying values - male superiority and women's place being within the home ideologies, norms of behaviour - men's socially accepted behaviour of sexual and explicit remarks as a form of masculinity, and patterns of regular behaviour - the evidence of norms occurring, evidence provided proving male superiority over women. Society can achieve the improvement of the educational inequality between men and women and its consequences with the creation of new underlying values and social norms and encouraging women to be seen outside the home with the action of placing schools in a location where women and children can access them with ease. Improving women's education shows strong links with increasing women's health inclusive of areas such as lower numbers of domestic abuse cases against women, young childbirth, lower numbers of child and mother mortality rates, and lower health impacts such as HIV contraction. Australia would also see a boost in the GDP by 11% by increasing women's appearance in work fields from Australia's current number of 45.7% to countries such as Canada, who have a 62.4 percentage of the female population employed.

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Possibilities of Application of Sociological Imagination: Analytical Essay. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 3, 2024, from
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