The Sociological Imagination: The Effect of Personal Experiences on the Public

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Topics: Poverty, Sociology
The Sociological Imagination

Focussing on Goodwin's quote, I intend to discuss through this essay, the fact that for social workers, the most important thing that sociology can teach is not how ‘personal issues’ may be public issues, but in fact how people’s experiences of personal issues effect public concerns and policy and shape everybody’s lives, thus how their service users’ issues are in fact public issues. To answer the question in brief, poverty is an aspect of contemporary society that can affect anyone at any time, therefore it is of everyone’s concern and is a public issue. For social workers, while it is important to acknowledge how poverty is often a very personal experience for people, it is something that is affected largely by social structures and policy and thus a real public concern, and indeed, one that everybody should take responsibility for.
Looking at Mill's notion of the sociological imagination with the question of whether or not poverty is a public issue in mind, we can see that Mills does consider poverty to be a public issue. The quote highlighted within the question considers the effects of societal structures, the first example that Mills highlights in this quote is the effects of industrialisation on workers; he highlights the changing distribution of wealth as societal structures change. While Mills does not explicitly state that the issue most dependant on societal structures is that of personal wealth, it is implied in the nature of his examples. One could suppose from this that Mills does view poverty as a public issue, as he feels that societal structures have real implications on people's wealth. Thus it could follow on from this that as poverty is always affected by social structures, it can always be considered to be a public issue and the implications of societal structures on personal economics is something that will be highlighted later in this essay.
Pete Alcock (1993) describes poverty as going short materially,



Bibliography: Alcock, P. (1993) Understanding Poverty, Palgrave Macmillan Allen, G Cunningham, J and Cunningham, S. (2008) Sociology and Social Work, Learning LTD Hewitt, M Godfrey, J. (2009) How to use your reading in your essays, Palgrave Macmillan Haralambos, M Hirsch, D. (2006) ‘The cost of not ending child poverty: How we can think about it, how it might be measured and some evidence’, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Hooper, C, Gorin, S, Cabral, C, and Dyson, C Lister, R (2003) Justice, Equality and Dependency: A critical social policy perspective Available at: www.warwick.ac.uk Marsh, I Morris (1993) in Giddens with assistance of Simon Griffiths Sociology, 5th ed, Polity Press Walsh, M, Stephens, P and Moore, S (2000) Social Policy and Welfare, Stanley Thornes Publishers

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