SOC131 Bluegrass Community and Technical College Sociological Imagination Paper

The sociologist C. Wright Mills writes in The Sociological Imagination(1959), “The first fruit of this imagination – and the first lesson of the social science that embodies it – is the idea that the individual can understand her own experience and gauge her own fate only by locating herself within her period, that she can know her own chance in life only by becoming aware of those of all individuals in her circumstances.” Mills argues that in the effort to think critically about the social world around us, we need to use our sociological imagination to see the connections between our personal “problems” and the larger forces of history.

Mills maintained throughout The Sociological Imaginationthat it is very difficult for most individuals in society to link their personal troubles to the socio-cultural institutions in which they live. In this paper, you are to use your sociological imagination to analyze a personal problem, past or present, connecting it to a broader social issue embedded in a social and historical context. For example, you may consider the dynamics of a personal relationship, your job or lack of a job, family dynamics, juggling work and school, drug or alcohol use/abuse, your body image, or securing school financing.

Here is the assignment:

  • First, write an introductoryparagraph introducing the concept of the sociological imagination, and giving a general overview of how you’ll be applying it in your paper.
  • Explain how you are dealing with a situation as a personal issue and label this section “personal explanation”; it can be in the past or present. You may think of something that is worrying you now. You can also analyze the situation of a person close to you if their experience affected you and you know it well enough personally to write in depth about it. Choose a situation that is easily explained through a variety of sociological concepts! Describe what led up to the situation, its resolution if applicable, the whys, who else is involved and what their roles are, etc. How do/did you feel and why? Describe anything else about this situation, the choices you did and didn’t make and why, etc. This section should be nolonger than two paragraphs (1/3 – 1/2 of a page).
  • Next, applying your sociological imagination, explain the situation sociologically and how society at large has affected the situation. Label this section “sociological imagination;” this section will be mostof your paper. Discuss the larger social forces that connect your personal situation to larger, related social issues. Use sociological terms and concepts(from the readings, class discussions, online text, etc.). You may need to emphasize some parts of your situation over others in order to include a variety of complex concepts. Your sociological imagination analysis should include as many concepts below as are applicable:
  • Cite as many social trends and statistics relevant to your situation (For example, divorce rates for various social categories of people vary as do poverty rates, crime and victimization rates, suicide rates, etc. i.e., what is the statistical likelihood that you will get divorced if you are married at 16 versus at 30?). These kinds of statistics are usually pretty accessible on the Net (and in your text).
  • Write a wrap-up conclusion paragraph summarizing the major finding/themes in your paper.
  • Avoid a focus on individualistic, psychological explanations about stress, personality, feelings, personal achievements and characteristics, etc. Refer specifically to information discussed in class, in the text, films or readings and link as many social trends, statistics, cultural values, social policies, or group dynamics as possible to your situation! Make sure you include the following five elements:
  • Sociological Perspectives
  • Socialization
  • Stratification and Social Class
  • Poverty and Inequality
  • Race & Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Sports
  • Health
  • Disaster

  1. A personal problem/situation
  2. A sufficient amount of sociological terms and concepts
  3. A variety of terms and concepts from a variety of chapters, Internet resources, and/or subjects
  4. One statistic
  5. Using the following format and stylistic guidelines:

Use a critical reflexive style – write in the first person and include yourself in your paper. Format your paper, using these dimensions:

  • 3-5 pages long
  • 12-point standard font
  • Double-space
  • Include your name and date on the first page
  • Number your pages
  • Edit your work carefully for spelling and grammar!