Personal Troubles vs Public Issues Essay: According to C. Wright Mills' Concept

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Sociological imagination is a quality of mind that individuals think of their own problems as matters that are private or they have caused themselves rather than the culture or historical context around them. C. Wright Mills states cultural imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society.

With sociological imagination one must be able to shift from one perspective to another and grasp what is happening in the world. With the concept one must also be able to make a distinction between their personal troubles and public issues in the social structure. Personal troubles are at an individual level and can be limited by the scope of one biography and social life. Public issues are when the matters involve local environment of the social structure. Personal troubles and public issues are often both connected. One example of these that is often used is unemployment. Unemployment can occur at a personal level for many reasons such as relocation, laziness, lack of knowledge, no job availability, education, and experience. But it may also be a public issue when it happens due to outsourcing or companies shutting down due to the economy or location. Another example C. Wright Mills writes about in his book is marriage. A marriage is between the husband and wife they may experience difficulties in their marriage that results in divorce which is personal troubles. It becomes a social issue when the divorce rate increases during a certain time span may indicate structural issues based on society. While there are many personal troubles that relate to social issues there are several that stand out. C. Wright Mills named several in his book ‘The Social Imagination’. Unemployment, divorce, war and metropolis are some of the ones he discussed. His book was written in 1959 and I think in today’s society there are also different types of troubles.

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Our textbook ‘The Real World’ discussed if someone is carrying a lot of credit card debt, psychological reasoning might focus on the person’s lack of self-control or inability to delay gratification. The sociological reasoning might focus on the impact of cultural norms that promote a lifestyle beyond means. An individual may use their credit card to purchase unnecessary items such as a Coach purse or the latest IPhone may not be thinking of the increasing personal debt they may be acquiring by making the purchases. The of course is an example of personal trouble because of the increasing debt that is a personal issue the individual must pay back. It becomes a social issue because the individual feels like they must keep up with others in society around them that are carrying the Coach purse and the latest IPhone. The cultural norm of society is get first and pay later which in turn makes it difficult for an individual living pay check to pay check to make ends meat.

Obesity is another example of a personal issue many Americans in today’s society struggle with. The prevalence of obesity was 39.8 % and affected 93.3 million US adults in 2015-2016. The personal troubles involved with each individual vary. It could be due to no self-control when it comes to stopping food intake at a meal, dietary patterns, physical activities, laziness, medical issues, medications, and education. There are also many factors involved in making this a social issue. Obesity is associated with many health problems that impact the United States. Medical cost associated with obesity increase, job productivity decreases, and mental illness increases. Some of these factors are related to the accessibity to health foods there is a fast food restaurant on every corner and often-fatty foods are cheaper than healthier foods. Physical activity requirements in school systems have decreased so exercise doesn’t become a part of everyday life. Individuals with college degrees are shown to have a lower obesity rate compared to those les educated and obesity is lower among individuals with a higher income rate. Body image disorders seem to be among other personal troubles related to social issues as well. Right now it is estimated that 30 million people will suffer from a eating disorder in their lifetime. The personal troubles related to body image may be related to psychiatric issues, personality traits, and family issues. Often body image disorders are related to ones personal perception of themselves and their physical appearance. In society weight and body image is everywhere you look. Magazines constantly promote getting healthy and slimming down. They show unrealistic images of stick thin model that is photo cropped to show an unhealthy image. Media constantly promotes unhealthy messages about what a woman’s body should look like. Girls often feel pressure by society to have a ideal appearance. Like obesity individuals with body images disorders also have increased medical expenses often related to mental illness treatments. Depending on the area that the individual lives a thin body is a cultural norm in society. The impact among adolescents is the greatest due to social pressures.

Student debt is another personal issue among a great deal of students graduating from college. Often college students struggle financially not only while attending college but once they have graduated as well. A great number of college students get scholarships but not enough to cover all expenses related to school. So students are often funded with loans that must be paid once college is completed. Once graduating students find themselves competing with each other for jobs, no jobs available related to the degree obtained and the wages earned compared to the cost of living added to loans. On the larger social scale it affects the economy due to the possibility of increased tuition and decrease in the number of student attending college. Society has pushed for individuals to get college degrees but a lot of times the job demand related to many degrees just aren’t available. The increase of student debt is on the rise with a decrease in individuals with trades. This affects society as a whole and is continually getting worse and has the potential to sink the economy.

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