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Understanding the Sociological Imagination In Human Services: Analytical Essay

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The sociological imagination provides fundamental aspects toward constructing a social explanation of the world, beyond common sense ideologies formed from an individual’s immediate social experiences. Sociologist C. Wright Mills (1959) described the sociological imagination as a connection derived from critical thinking, linking personal troubles and public issues, biographies and history, self and the world. Three main conceptualised aspects of explanation are referenced in this paper as sensibilities - Historic, Structural and Cultural. The intent of this paper is to explain how these three sensibilities are important in understanding society when applying them to a future career in Human Services.

Historical sensibility is important to the sociological imagination as it allows for a more learned understanding of the current world, on a micro and macro scale and makes sense of developments in societal organisations. Examining the history of human behaviour and interactions between individuals and social structures, provides insight as to why things are the way they are, or, for example, how social normalities came to be. Willis (2011) explains that individuals and societies are greatly affected by history, therefore history is integral to sociology. A future career as a Psychologists would see the practitioner use individual-orientated methods such as cognitive behavioural therapy techniques and motivational interviewing (Levin, Haldar & Picot 2015) but to understand behaviour in current terms the practitioner must look at the development of the society in which the client derives, from a biological and behavioural approach. When treating a patient, a psychologist must bare mind to the history of learned emotion for the individual – for example, a male client raised in the United States of America may conform to the dominant masculine norm that ‘men don’t cry’ (Vogel, Heimerdinger-Edwards & Hubbard 2001) thus making it more challenging for the male to disclose true emotion. To grasp historic sensibility a developed awareness of the relationship between individuals and social structures is imperative.

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Another element of the sociological imaginations is the development of a social sensibility, pertaining directly to the social structures of class, race and gender in Australia.

Culture exists unconsciously, on a macro intersocietal level (between different societies) and a micro intrasocietal (between the same society) wielding influence on beliefs, thoughts, attitudes, behaviours, fears and trust. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines culture as “the belief systems and value orientations that influence customs, norms, practices, and social institutions, including psychological processes (language, care taking practices, media, educational systems) and organizations.” As all humans are inevitably a product of culture, it is important for healthcare professionals to practice from outside a familiar or dominant societal lens. As a Psychologist in Australia determining a perceived issue, it is important to make informed considerations regarding what is considered normal or abnormal behaviour based the clients input and possible divergent cultural conceptualisations. Some persons within societies, in this instance Aboriginal Australian Culture (a minority culture in Australia) claim to have visions or hear voices and are revered, in other societies, such as the European Australian Society, these same persons would possibly be hospitalised and labelled mentally unwell– traditional Aboriginal culture does not consider mental illness to be part of an individual at all (Loewenthal 2006). As Australia is a multicultural society psychologist must develop cultural sensibility, to create a process for the practitioner to effectively work within cultural context of the individual, family or community (Campinha-Bacote 2002). This will found more adept treatment for holistic psychological wellbeing and mitigate poor treatment plans stemming from clinicians being blinded by their own views of culture (Shakespeare-Finch & Gow 2008).

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Understanding the Sociological Imagination In Human Services: Analytical Essay. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 29, 2023, from
“Understanding the Sociological Imagination In Human Services: Analytical Essay.” Edubirdie, 14 Jul. 2022,
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