Sociology is the study of the human race as a whole and the sociological perspective involves a sociological mindset, which allows you to put your personal feelings, and encounters into relation with society. To understand what we are going through as individuals, one must first understand and relate to individuals in the same situation, or as Wright (1959:3) puts it, “…the first lesson of the social science…is the idea that the individual can understand his own experience and gauge his own fate only by…becoming aware of individuals in his circumstances.” The idea of social imagination and social perspective is just that: relating yourself and your problems, to society as a whole.
Many of the articles read in class demonstrate the use of the sociological imagination described by the late C. Wright Mills. One for instance is Teenage Wasteland by author Donna Gaines. The article depicts how Gaines travels to a small suburban town to explore the reasons as to why four teenagers would make a suicide pact to end their lives together. The people of the town believed that the reasons behind the suicide pact were due to something that these four individuals had in common, but were unrelated to what was going on around them. Gaines, however, thought differently. As a cultural sociologist, Gaines knows the concept of sociological imagination, and she knows that the reasoning behind the pact was not just an internal problem, rather a problem that arose from their surroundings. The real reason behind the pact couldn’t be that these four individuals had the same feelings inside them that was created by them in their own mind because no individuals are entirely the same. But the truth of the matter is that their society gave these four individuals the same label and put them into a category to make them feel less than what they are; “They were defined by who they were, by what they wore, by where they were seen, and with whom.” (Gaines 1990; 14). When trying to relate this...
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