Sociological imagination is the ability to see the intersection between individual lives and larger social influences. Throughout the movie Pay it Forward there are many examples of this going on. Trevor has many interactions with individuals in which he helps them single handily by doing this those people are helping other people which effects society on a large scale. Trevor understood the concept of sociological imagination even if he didn’t know what it meant. His professor Eugene wanted to make a difference in his social study class so he introduced this concept to his students without them really knowing what he was trying to do. He asked them if they could change the world by themselves. He then asked if they were important in society and the kids answered no but the truth is everyone is important in their own subcultures, and one person can change that culture.
When Trevor first started pay it forward he had no idea that the impact of it would spread 100’s of miles away from where it started, and he had no idea that it was going to affect that many people. What happened with Pay it Forward was collective behavior which is the spontaneous and unstructured behavior of a large number of people. When Trevor developed the help 3 strangers they returned the favor and did it 3 more times and so on and so forth. A direct example of this is when Trevor helped the first person he meet a homeless man named jerry, he brought him in his house and gave him a shower and food. When jerry left at first he didn’t help anyone but he finally realized he had to keep pay it forward going. So when the opportunity arose he seized it by helping a woman of a bridge who was on the verge of committing suicide. By doing this Jerry kept the process going and spreading father away from the source.
Pay it forward can be considered a social movement which is a large and organized activity to promote or resist a particular social change. Pay it forward was 100 percent becoming a social movement people were spreading the word of what was going on and they were starting to organize themselves to try to make this a movement. A prime example of this when Arlene and Eugene are later watching a television news report about "pay it forward" and Trevor's death, and learn that the movement has grown nationwide. Venturing outside, they see hundreds of people gathering in a vigil to pay their respects to Trevor, with yet more people arriving in a stream of vehicles visible in the distance as the movie ends.
I believe that symbolic interactionists would agree with the pay it forward movement. Even though they examine culture through micro lenses, they are most interested in understanding how people create, maintain, and modify culture. I would have to say that pay it forward modified the culture in and around Las Vegas, by encouraging its citizens to do good deeds to random people spontaneously. At the end of the film when Trevor dies and the story breaks that it was him be hide pay it forward people realized that he had almost created a new form of culture where strangers are nice to other strangers. Micro approaches are useful in understanding what culture means to people, in the case of pay it forward it meant doing random acts of kindness to complete strangers just on the sole facet that they’re going to repeat the activity to someone else.