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The concept of sociological imagination was created by an American sociologist C. Wright Mills when he published his book, ‘The Sociological Imagination’ in 1959. Mills wanted to challenge the leading ideas within sociology. “The sociological Imagination is defined as the ability to understand one’s own issues are not caused simply by one’s own beliefs or thoughts but by society and how it is structured.” (Mills, The Sociological Imagination, 1959). Sociological imagination is the ability to see how society is integrated and how matters such as societal norms influence people into performing certain actions.
The sociological imagination is critical for individual people and large groups in society to understand. It is important for individuals in society to understand the relation to situations in their everyday lives to the local, national, and global societal issues that affect them. Without this ability, it is very hard for individual people to decide if these situations would need to change to better their everyday lives.
Using your sociological imagination is focusing on “history and biography and the relations between the two within society” (Mills 1959: 6) If looking back on history, some societies have obtained a different standard and level of sociological imagination.
Some societies have never had it, others have obtained and lost it, while others have obtained it and thrived on it. Societies that have obtained it and have thrived on it are usually made up of most advanced cultures. Societies that have failed to obtain or have lost sociological imagination have usually been struck with poverty.
(Schneider, Linda & Silverman, 2006). Mills wrote, “ The sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two in society.” (1969. P.6) These individuals within society are able to move from a historical viewpoint to a social viewpoint.
Sociological imagination can be described as a critical imagination. Social imagination allows one to probe beneath the surface of a certain situation in one’s life to find possible alternatives. (Giddens 1982, p.26,-166)
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