Turning Personal Problems Into Public Issues

Topics: Sociology, Person, Society Pages: 2 (438 words) Published: July 7, 2013
Intro to Sociology
Journal entry #1
In his own words, Mills claimed “it is the capacity to shift from one perspective to another…the capacity to range from the most impersonal and remote transformations to the most intimate features of the human self – and to see the relations between the two of them”. Mills believed that being able to see the relationship between the ordinary lives of people and the wider social forces was the key to the sociological imagination.

Fundamental to Mills theory is the idea of public issues and private troubles. An individual’s troubles are personal when they occur because of the person’s character. Public issues, however, are a direct result of the problems within society, they affect people hugely but often the individual will assign the problem as their own personal downfall rather than as a societal problem.

An ordinary man may get depressed about being unemployed and automatically accept it as his own personal trouble. He will be condemned as being ‘lazy’ or ‘work-shy’ and labeled simply as a ‘scrounger’. However, if there are thousands of other individuals also unemployed, Mills argues it should then be treated as a public issue. Another good example of this is divorce. If only a few divorces occur within a society than it can be seen as person troubles of the people involved. If, however, masses of people are getting divorced every year than it can be seen as a public issue where institutions like marriage, law and media need to be looked at. Mills suggested was that these sorts of problems are interwoven with the large-scale problems of society where government policy may be involved and therefore are a ‘public issue’. It is clear from this that what sociology focuses on is the influence of social forces on behavior and how individuals and groups respond to these forces.

The one good thing about turning personal problems into public issues is the awareness that everyone has about a particular situation....
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