Sociology as a field of study entails examining and understanding the behavior of human groups and associated social behavior. In understanding these aspects, the sociologists have, their focus primarily concentrated on the human interactions. These human interactions revolve around how the different social relations influence the behavior and attitudes of the people and how the societies originate, form and change. Human interactions are vast, and so is the field of sociology. It covers virtually all the topics of human life, from gender, race, religion, education, politics, health, group behavior and conformity among others. Sociologist focus on how the society and people influence other people since most personal experiences has their origin from external or social forces.
The social and external forces exist within the society in the form of interpersonal relationships between families and friends. Additionally, these relations form from the encounters in the academic, religious, economic and all other types of social institutions. In the year 1959, a sociologist named, C. Wright Mills, therefore, established the concept of sociological imagination. He continued and defined the subject of sociological imagination concretely as the ability to see and create visualization of the impact that social forces have on the clandestine and public lives of persons. Therefore, sociological imagination is a central and essential part of understanding the sociological perspective. Sociological imagination is thus, the concept of being able to "think ourselves away" from the usual routines of our daily lives and being able to look at them anew from the familiar way (Allan, 2010). In practice, it is the awareness of the relation between the experiences and the wider society, seeing how things interact and influence each other. For an individual to have an alternative view of the situation starts with dissociating from the familiar view of the situation.
Sociologists approach events and behaviors from a holistic and multidimensional perspective using sociological imagination. They focus on examining the personal and social forces when they are trying to fathom and elaborate any phenomena (Allan, 2010). For instance, to understand the concept of sociological imagination clearly, Mills gives several examples. The first example that he introduces is of a common happening in the society. Visualize this girl, she sees herself as being plump and wishes to get thin and fair. However, due to one or another reason, she cannot manage to achieve that look. This further develops into a chronic depression incidence, and she suffers from inferiority complex. In the pursuit to get thin, she becomes anorexic and thus faces associated severe health problems. If we approach this scenario from an isolation point of perception, we will observe that it is her personal problem, in which she is spoiling her life by her own actions. However, employing the concept of sociological imagination, we would manage to realize that, the condition she is experiencing originates from the larger society. It is the society, which is obsessed with the thin body and the fair skin. The media represents and portrays the thin and fair girl as the most beautiful and desirable; hence, this representation directly and indirectly affects the people as is happening to this girl. If it were only a few girls suffering from anorexia in the society, then we would conclude that it is a personal problem.
Another illustration from a different perspective is the prominent issue of jobs. Suppose there is this boy, he needs to get a job, but he does not manage because he has responsibilities such as loans and other bills that he needs to pay. After trying for some time, he does not manage, and, therefore, he decides to join the gangs, engaging in illegal and criminal activities. From an individual perspective, we would easily and quickly condemn this boy, saying that, he failed to try hard to get the job, and that he engaged in the crime to get easy and quick money (Bratton, Denham & Deutschmann, 2009). However, from a sociological imagination perspective, then we can observe conclusively that the larger social forces of economic meltdown, the high levels of unemployment, and irregularities in the subprime mortgage industry had a direct impact in the life of the boy. It is easy to blame this boy of having a deformed personal character. It would be true that if only few people suffered the same circumstance, then it would be a personal issue. However, it is true that several people, especially the youth who are suffering from the same problem causes the aspect to become a social and public problem, in which the government and the banking industry are involved. Therefore, the problem evolves from wider societal issues.
Similarly, taking any individual situation or problem and trying to ascertain the core basis of the problem in the society, one will always establish that the issue emanated from a particular issue. Additional examples of the case scenarios include, the increasing numbers of divorce cases, many farmers committing suicide, children becoming delinquent due to poverty, among others. These examples illustrate the aspect propagated by sociological imagination that the so-called "personal problems" originate from within the larger society directly or indirectly (Bratton, Denham & Deutschmann, 2009). Sociological imagination shows how the large social forces influence the individual behaviors and actions of the people.
The connections between individuals and the social-cultural structures
The social and political institutions establish the context for individual and the group behavior. They are responsible for availing the resources that individuals need to survive. The way people live their lives is largely dependent on the social structures in which they live (Schaefer, 2007). The subject of social justice is also a part of this social structures, which is responsible for ensuring that the social structures and resources availed by the society, and political institutions do satisfy the basic needs of the human beings. However, in the society, most social institutions have the characteristics of exploitation, political discrimination and exclusions, and a prevalent unequal distribution and access to resources. These structural differences force the creation of a system of winners and losers, which entraps the people in the particulate social situations. The structural violence in the society is because of the power inequalities, poverty issues and the denial of the basic human rights (Garfinkel, 2008). When the structure does not meet the basic human needs, and the various societal groups suffer from inadequate access of to the resources, and exclusion from institutional patterns of decision-making, the unequal and inadequate opportunities of employment, and the structural violence results. The United States presents a good illustration of this deindustrialization of the minority and the working class community.
There are different types of structural changes in the social realm. The characteristics of general breakdown of the government, economic privation and the civil strife feature in the conflicts observed in America (King & McCarthy, 2009). One form of injustice that needs addressing is bad governance. One very broad social structural change is state reform and democratization (Schaefer, 2007). This area needs serious redress. The social structural changes should focus on establishing a participatory nation-building process, fostering democratic development, and good, effective systems of dispute revolutions.
An additional form of social structural change is the strengthening of the civil society. The civil society covers various sectors and wide fields, including the business world, the trade unions, the women groups, the churches and the human rights activities (Schaefer, 2007). In many of the societies, the citizens do not participate in the institutions of public governance and are thus, unable to solve the social problems. The community relations and the civic life do not exist in most of the disintegrated societies, this form a basis for an oppressive regime.
Several injustices and oppressive activities that contribute to the social structural change and understanding of the society from sociological imagination perspective is that of social movements (Schaefer, 2007). Such movements that foster the push towards an understanding of the social problems that we experience in the United States advocate for the alternative approach that social imagination provide. Such is the understanding of the core cause of the quandary, which would provide a logical and practical point of perceiving the issues at hand. This way, the social structural changes that indicate the relations of individuals to the society and the influences these interactions have on the individuals (Giddens & Sutton, 2009).
The novel, America written by John Debrizzi
The novel America by John Debrizzi is an exclusive book that is set on fictional grounds. The story of the book is set in the American society. It is set in the early 20th century, and it tells the story of immigrants as they came into the Americas in this early century. The story unrolls from the perspective of social change, when these immigrants descendent into United States. The story features the leading role; a daughter of one of the immigrants meets the president. Consequently, this results in One Big Union, which then spreads through an eerie silence across the land. This story is bequeathing as…