Life is unpredictable and you cannot decide upon your fate, but your own attitude. I can understand that you are going through a troublesome phase of your life as you have split from your husband but blaming him or his family for this sad incident will not take you anywhere. My dear friend! I want you to know that our sociological imagination or sociological perspectives can pay integral role in shaping the course of our life. Sociological imagination is a term coined by C. Wright Mills in 1959, to help us understand the role that society plays in an individual’s life. Mills links the individual thoughts and society as both of these elements are so closely related to each other that people often confuse their personal problems with social troubles (Mills, 1959). For instance, a person suffering from anxiety and stress can blame social connections and relationships for his condition but he may be suffering from some psychological problem. In the same manner, I would recommend you to read this till end to gain a better understanding of the role that sociological perspective plays in our everyday decisions and approaches. Sociological perspective changes its nature in different contexts. For instance, you may blame your ex-husband for your anxiety and stress, which is completely understandable. But on the same time, you may not consider the role that your friends and family play in increasing your stress by asking you questions about your separation. This implies that as social beings, we think and perceive under the influence of other people and contexts.
Another method for understanding sociological imagination is the fact that social results depend on our actions. To understand this, we should know that a few things in social context bring about specific results. The elements of sociological imagination are things such as social standards and thought processes, the social connection are similar to nations and era. In this way, what we do is meant to influence other people around us. Our actions are influenced by circumstances that surround us, our social values, and the role that other people play in our life. These things are intertwined to influence our lives. In this manner, sociological imagination is a thought process that helps us understand the actions of society at large. Sociological imagination is the ability to move from one viewpoint to the next one. To have a sociological creative energy, a man must have the capacity to pull far from the circumstance and perceive from a different approach. It obliges us to stop thinking about our daily routine activities and think in another paradigm to gain better understanding of other aspects of our lives such as families and relationships. To form the basis of social knowledge, one must think away from the routine thoughts and put things in wider contexts, where relationships and interactions can be seen in a practical manner. While doing so, individuals tend to relate their personal problems with the public issues. Stephanie Coontz discusses the role that sociological imagination plays in shaping our relationships with our family members. She does not agree with the ‘functionalist’ view of family values of 1950s that were largely based on male-dominant families and societies. The women were stills striving for their freedom and basic rights (Coontz, 1997). Coontz, in this regard, adopts ‘conflict’ model to assert that other forms than male-dominant families can also have great family values. Such as female-dominant families can have strong family values just as male-dominant values.
Coontz contends that the present discussion on families revolves around a contrast between social values and the economy. The individuals who support customary family values contend that there should be new family values adopted a specific arrangement of qualities. Their adversaries focus on the formation of new economy. At initially, Coontz appears to have a place in this last class. Her contention, in any case, is more refined than both of the groups. She attests that while we have to rebuild our economy, we likewise, must rebuild our qualities and values. In this regard, she prescribes that we modify our qualities in ways that expand obligation regarding dealing with one another and particularly dealing with kids. The new value-based values will also bring positive changes to our economy in a natural way of society. The new economic growth and development will help us implement and practice new values in a more conducive manner. Therefore, to Coontz, family structure is not central to family values, but belief in supporting each other can improve the shape of family values in the modern times. Coontz criticizes the role that the economy of twentieth-century post war played in shaping the family structure and values. She considers the economy has failed many individuals not just in economic terms, but also in emotional and psychological ways as lack of financial resources or lack of time for family increase the stress, while negatively impacting the family values. She blames the economic growth for this as people tend to be superficial and selfish in order to reap the benefit of the economy, even on the cost of their family and friends. Coontz, just as Marx, considers economy, government, and labor division as the basis of family values in new societies. Sociological imagination, in this manner, is under the influence of economic framework and context in modern societies. This gives rise to a variety of conflicting beliefs, ideas, norms, and values. Children and teenagers who do not get to grow in conventional families may be as much well-behaved and well-mannered as the children who grow up in chauvinist families. The focus that Coontz put in defining the sociological perspective in shaping family values relies upon the economic context.
In Hernando Washington, McIntyre discusses the role that sociological imagination, social circumstances, and social facts play in forming the basis of relationships between individuals. The importance of sociological imagination cannot be undermined as Hernando murdered Sarah due to his inability to connect individuals and society through sociological imagination (McIntyre, 2002). He lacked the sense of differentiating between the social circumstances of Sarah and his own, in which they grew up to be different individuals. The social facts of both the individuals were different. Just as the social facts impact the way we think and believe, the differences between two individuals were of striking nature. Hernando grew up in a criminal and abusive social setting where criminals could get away with their crimes, he thought he could get away from his crime as well. The case of Hernando presents the elements of psychological issues with the protagonist, but the sociological analysis of Hernando reveals that there was the sociological perspective behind his actions. In this manner, McIntyre helps us in understanding the role of sociological perspective and imagination in shaping the actions of individuals, just as defined by Mills.
The understanding of sociological imagination has helped in understanding the importance of social facts that are not in my control and hence, helping me in managing my relationships with family members and friends in a better manner. For instance, I cannot control the attitude and behavior of people towards me or even others. This is to say that if someone is mad at me or talks in a bad tone to me, I simply understand that I cannot control his/her language or tone, but work on my own attitude and reaction towards his/her action. I can choose to stay quiet and save my energy as my sociological perspective does not find it sensible to react back to the individual. Similarly, I have understood the importance of family values as emphasized by Coontz and I tend to value and cherish my family values more than ever. The change in my sociological imagination and perspective can be revolutionary and even shocking to my family and friends as I am known to be a short-tempered person who can easily react to offensive attitudes and behaviors. My family will receive the change in my sociological perspective with great pleasure and my friends will support my new and improvised stance on sociological perspective. Lastly, I cannot afford to undermine the importance of an ‘appropriate’ sociological perspective as I believe that the appropriate sociological imagination can help in repairing the problem areas of the families and society at large.
Coontz, S. (1997). The way we really are. New York: BasicBooks.
McIntyre, L. (2002). The practical skeptic. Boston: McGraw HIll.
Mills, C. (1959). The sociological imagination. New York: Oxford University Press.