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In 1959, C.Wright Mills published The Sociological Imagination that provided a clear insight into what this term refers to and its importance for societies and individuals. Mills was a highly regarded sociologist and became renowned for the connections he made between the understanding of oneself and the broader context to which we live in, with regards to what influences this has on our choices and actions (Cite). Often, our own personal ‘troubles’, as Mills referred to, have been shaped by wider societal issues; for example, if within a country there are only a very minute proportion of people who are unemployed, then one could conclude that it is a cause of their own personal problem (Cite).
However, if a large proportion of a people within a country are unemployed then connections and relationships can be made between personal troubles and public issues. Therefore, through Mills explanation of the process of Sociological Imagination, individuals are able to apply this concept to their own personal lives.
In this essay, I am going to establish the ongoing and large decisions I have made in my life, and how society has helped to shape these choices to provide benefits to the culture itself.
Exercise and sport to me is as important as water, carbon dioxide and oxygen are for plants. How can one prosper and grow without such things? In my opinion, one simply can’t. Exercise and sport has performed an important role in my life from a very young age, its provided me with the skills that have helped me develop as an individual and become the person I am today.
The concept of Sociological Imagination is applicable to exercise in particular, as to understand my desire to exercise it is crucial to look at the driving forces behind my motivations, by analyzing its relationship with societal structures. Firstly, exercise performs functions on a personal level as it helps reduce health risks, such as blood pressure and diseases through means of maintaining a healthy body weight and alleviating any forms of stress. Through family generations, there has been an alarming number of family members with high blood pressure, obesity and joint replacements. Therefore, my impulse to exercise is partially stemmed from the fear of also encountering these health risks. Likewise, exercise and sport acts as a means of interacting and socializing with others, through the shared interest of exercising. Becoming an active team member of a sports team can help develop important skills such as a communication, time management and conflict resolution.
However, when one also analyzes the current society and culture we live in, it is evident that the amount of people who are aspiring to exercise has stemmed from media distributions of edited pictures of the ‘desired body or look’. Although I may not be consciously performing the act of exercise and sport to help achieve this ‘ideal’ body shape, clearly there is an element of a subconscious desire to obtain societal approval of my appearance. In addition, societies help promote the importance of exercise and participation in sport, to reduce the rates of obesity (which often leads to serious illnesses and diseases) and alleviate the pressure on the National Health Service (NHS) in England. Evidently, this has now become what C.Wright Mills would refer to as a public issue, as when on puts personal issues of achieving the right body shape, the psychological issues that accompanies this problem and reducing the rates of obesity, it becomes larger than the individual them self.
A large part of my personal life and journey has been shaped by my fifteen years spent in education, with two years studying higher education at the College of Charleston. From a young age, I always knew that once I finished high school I would attend university. Neither my parents, nor my grandparents attended university. So, it made me consider why have me and my sister both decided it was the right path in our lives to attend university? For my parents and my grandparents, I believe there wasn’t as much emphasis placed on the importance of attending university, as there is in present day societies. A causative factor for this change could be the changes in the types of jobs, for example, the decline in manufacturing careers. Therefore, as society has developed and changed so has the opinions regarding higher education. For myself, there were clear personal benefits for attending university in Charleston, South Carolina, as I was able to continue my pursuit of playing golf at a high college level, and I was enabled me to explore new places in America, as my home is in England. Likewise, I value education as providing me and other students with the necessary skills that often prepare students for their chosen career paths, as well as, revealing societal structures and exposing students to consider an array of perspectives.
When I take into consideration C.Wright Mills perspective of the Sociological Imagination, it is important to understand my choices of higher education and the relationships it has to societal factors and cultural norms and values. Through attending university and higher education I am fulfilling societies desires of the ‘ideal’ pathway to lead a successful and prosperous life. For many years now, the value and importance placed on attending university has been ingrained into the mindset and norms of society as a way of achieving what society classifies as a ‘fulfilling job’. Societal structures are set in place to ensure that large proportions of students further their educational careers by offering grants and scholarships which help to increase the enrollment in university institutions. Evidently, through analysis of this aspect of my life, I have been exposed to believe that in order to lead a fulfilling and enjoyable life I should attend university in order to become a well-rounded individual and obtain a highly regarded job.
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