In a 2-page paper (saved as a Word document or PDF file), please address the following 7 bullet points about this week’s module. Your responses to these bullet points will eventually ground your writing in Paper 1.

Summarize

  1. Summarize the entirety of the module’s OER reading in 5-10 sentences.
  2. Summarize the entirety of the module’s lecture 🙁https://youtu.be/pjWGUMVHdr0) in 5-10 sentences.

Reflect

  1. What did you know about the module’s topic before you began the module?
  2. What did you learn about the module’s topic by completing the module?
  3. What do you still not understand about the module’s topic, despite completing the module? (i.e., what questions remain for you?)

Connect

  1. How does the module’s topic connect to a current issue in the social world? Be specific.
  2. How does the module’s topic connect to you? Be specific.

Explanation & Answer length: 2 pages1 attachmentsSlide 1 of 1

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4 – The Sociological Imagination 4.1 The Sociological Imagination Although the methods and paradigms that sociologists use in their research differ, all sociologists share at least one thing in common: each of them looks at society using what American sociologist C. Wright Mills (1916-1962) called the sociological imagination10: the ability to situate private or “personal troubles” within an informed framework of larger social or “public issues.”11 Personal Troubles and Public Issues Mills defined personal troubles as private problems experienced within the character of an individual and the range of their immediate relations to others. In contrast, he defined public issues as those problems that lie beyond one’s personal control and outside the range of one’s inner life. Public issues pertain to society’s organizations and processes; they’re rooted in society – not the individual. For Mills, the sociological imagination allows us to see the relationship between our individual experiences and the larger society.12 It encourages us to see our personal troubles in the context of the broader social processes that structure them. For example, personal troubles like being overweight, being unemployed, having marital difficulties, or feeling purposeless or depressed can be purely private in nature. It is possible for them to be addressed and understood in terms of individual, psychological, or moral attributes – either one’s own or those of the people in one’s immediate milieu. In an individualistic society like our own, this is, in fact, the most likely way that people will regard the struggles they confront: “I have an addictive personality;” “I can’t get a break in the job market;” “My husband 10 This text is from Little (2016). This text is from Wikibooks (n.d.). 12 This text is from Hammond and Cheney (n.d.). 11 is unsupportive,” etc. However, if one’s troubles are widely shared, they’re not simply personal; rather, they’re common social problems that have their source in the way social life is structured. Thus, they’re best addressed as public issues requiring a collective response and solution. Obesity, for example, has been increasingly recognized as an area of concern for children and adults in North America. Michael Pollan (2006) cites statistics that three out of five Americans are overweight, and one out of five is obese. Obesity is therefore not simply a personal trouble related to the medical issues, dietary practices, or exercise habits of specific individuals. Instead, it is a widely shared public issue that puts many people at risk for chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It also creates significant social costs for our medical system and other aspects of society. Given the number of people impacted by obesity, Pollan sees obesity as a public issue. More specifically, he argues that obesity is a product of the increasingly sedentary and stressful lifestyle of modern, capitalist society. He also claims that it’s a product of the industrialization of our food chain, which, since the 1970s, has produced increasingly cheap and abundant food with significantly more calories due to processing. Additives like corn syrup, which are much cheaper and therefore more profitable to produce than natural sugars, have led to trends like supersized fast foods and soft drinks. In fact, according to Pollan, most processed foods available for purchase in American supermarkets are made with cheap, calorie-rich, corn-based additives. In this example, the sociological imagination allows us to see how the personal trouble of obesity is related to the public issue of industrialized food.13 Biography and History In advocating for the sociological imagination, Mills proposed that: 13 This text is from Little (2016). “What people need… is a quality of mind that will help them to use information and to develop reason in order to achieve lucid summations of what is going on in the world and of what may be happening within themselves. The sociological imagination enables its possessor to understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external career of a variety of individuals.”14 In other words, for Mills: “Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both.” Thus, Mills’ conceptualization of the sociological imagination also encourages us to recognize how events in our own lives (or our “biography”) and events in society/culture (or “history”) are intertwined.15 As an example of this intertwining, consider the case of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. Born in 1961, his “biography” reveals individual intelligence, charisma, and drive: Obama graduated with a B.A. from Columbia University and a J.D. from Harvard University; achieved a successful career in law and education; was elected to the Illinois State and United States Senate; and became the first African American President – all by 2008, when he was 47 years old (Wikipedia, n.d.). But what role did “history” play in Obama’s election to President? What if, for example, instead of being born in 1961, Obama ran for President in 1961? 1961 was a tumultuous year for the United States, especially in regards to race, race relations, and racial inequality. That year, in an effort to test a Supreme Court ban on the segregation of interstate bus travel, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) sent a small group of black and white Americans on desegregated buses from Washington, DC to New Orleans, LA. This “freedom ride” movement was interrupted by white supremacists, who attacked and even firebombed the buses. Pointedly, police and political leaders were slow to respond to this violence. Regardless of Obama’s “biography,” would Americans have elected him President in 1961 (History.com, n.d.)? 14 15 This text is from Wikibooks (n.d.). This text is from Hammond and Cheney (n.d.). As Mills saw it, the sociological imagination can help us to cope with and change our “private troubles” and “biography” by directing our attention to the “public issues” and “history” that structure our lives. By stepping outside of our personal, self-centric view of the world, we can begin to see how society and culture – now, and over time – influence our attitudes, behavior, and life chances.16 16 This text is from Wikibooks (n.d.). Bibliography Hammond, Ron and Paul Cheney. n.d. College of the Canyons: Introduction to Sociology, SOC 101, v2.1. Orem Utah: Utah Valley University. Retrieved July 28, 2020 . Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0). History.com. n.d. “Black History Milestones: Timeline.” Retrieved July 28, 2020. Little, William. 2016. Introduction to Sociology, 2nd Canadian Edition. Retrieved July 28, 2020 (). Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Pollan, Michael. 2006. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin. Wikibooks. n.d. Introduction to Sociology. Retrieved July 28, 2020 . Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike License. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. n.d. “Barack Obama.” Retrieved July 28, 2020 .

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