Sociological Imagination 

Sociological Imagination

By Trissean McDonald

Dice Insights

Sociological imagination emphasizes the historical and biological connections that human beings associate amongst themselves to help shape or create a society amongst themselves, as well as self-enlightenment. Historically, human beings form a series of broad events within their lifetime that ranges from the past to present. Additionally, on a biological perspective, human beings associate those learned series of events into their own lives, in which shapes or constructs their own sense of individuality.

C. Wright Mills, a sociologist, first coined the term “sociological imagination” in 1959, “the awareness of the relationship between personal experience and the wider society.” Individuals define who they are, what place they hold within society, by their own interpretation of the series of broad events that occurred/occurs within their community or society as a whole. This defines individuality within a society, because every individual has their own different interpretation of the historical broad events imposed on each society. Therefore, everyone has the opportunity to improve themselves and their society because of historical events that help shape individuals’ perspective of how a society should be and the certain roles that everyone need to take in order to improve it.

Mills’ theory is in fact acceptable in the devastating case about terrorism today, if viewed at in a sociological perspective. There was a terror attack in Manchester, England that left a number of individuals dead and a few injured. The attack happened after an Ariana Grande concert outside the arena. A person that pledged allegiance to ISIS, went to the arena with the intent to cause harm to the public by suicide bombing. The bomb went off, however there was no suicide only injuries to the aggressor. The majority of the people that died were trampled. This example exemplifies the relationship between people and the Jihad. People are constantly reminded of historical broad events shaping the society around them. Therefore, they utilize their sociological imagination to identify how they can find themselves within the ongoing events. And some may identify themselves as Jihad, killing the lives of many innocent people in the name of Allah.

Bruce Jenner, an American Olympic gold medalist, identified himself as a girl since a kid. Yet in those times, it would have been totally unacceptable to mention anything of the sort. The transgender movement, another historical event, allowed Bruce to identify himself within that community. Bruce underwent the process of becoming a woman. After the complete transformation, Jenner made her debut as Caitlyn. Caitlyn sociological imagination laid dormant for many years. However, the transgender movement allowed a reawakening into Bruce’s introspection of becoming a woman. Now, Caitlyn is a part of the LGBT society. She’s an advocate for the community as well as a member.

Everyone identify with their sociological imagination differently because it’s presented to everyone differently. Although the historical event remains the same for everyone, the interpretation of those events rely simply on the person witnessing it. Those individuals then apply those interpretations to the world around them whether negatively or positively. Those interpretations are simply historical events that are defined by people’s view of themselves and their society.

The historical events such as the attack of 9/11, the transgender movement as well as the gay marriage movement, having the first black president in our country, gives a different interpretation to everyone that are a part of, or are influenced by the events. Sociological imagination is defined by our own view of the world around us, how we can identify ourselves within the historical events that are ongoing. Sociological imagination, in a sense is self-defined. Sociological imagination emphasizes the historical and biological connections that human beings associate amongst themselves to help shape or create a society amongst themselves, as well as self-enlightenment. Individuals identify themselves by the media, other individuals, or any other narrative that mark a series of historical events or behaviors. Individuals identify themselves through their own social imagination (perspective).


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