What is the Sociological Imagination? The sociological imagination is defined as “the ability to connect the most basic, intimate aspects of an individual’s life to seemingly impersonal and remote historical forces. ” (Conley, 5) So to begin I, had to ask myself what parts of my life can be examined by the social imagination. The first thing I had to do was look at what sociological institutions and forces have made me who I am today. The process of narrowing down the most influential forces really took some time.
The first one I thought of was one that a person cannot choose, that being my family and how this has given me some of my most important characteristics, such as my work ethic and views of the society which we live in. The next institution I thought of was religion and how it influenced my views of the world, my morals, and how the establishment of my religion has given me a greater sense of belonging. And finally I looked at how the media has shaped the way that I make my political decisions as well as allowing me to become more tolerant of others.
The fist, and potentially the most important, social institution in my life would have been my family. Over my years as an adolescence, being raised in my parent’s home, I was socialized in what was to be expected for things such as my politics, ethics, work ethic, religious/spiritual views and my views of the family unit, as well as how I should view and interact. Today I would be called, by most a republican. This is because of the way that I was taught to be responsible for my actions and my responsibility for helping my neighbor. This also applies to my work ethic.
As a child my family always worked with their hands and taught me to take pride in the jobs that I did, which were mostly labor. Through the years I have found that today I am still able to take pride in my labor over things such as academics. To reflect back to my political views, I am still responsible for my academics but find it much more difficult to take the same amount of pride in it. Today I still find it difficult to be around certain people because of their views on the world, particularly people with a high sense of self-entitlement.
This comes from a philosophy that my family instilled in me at a young age, being “If you didn’t work for it, it’s not worth having. ” This does not change that I was also taught to be kind and caring to my neighbor, but sometimes leaves me with grievances towards parts of society. The final thing that my family has taught me is what a family unit should be. I grew up in two houses, my mothers and my fathers. My mother bounced around the area for most of my childhood, a few boyfriends and two husbands, and the in between time, living with her father.
The other household, with my father, was him and his girlfriend, of 16 years, who he is now married to, following my mother around. Now that is not what most would think I would consider as an ideal family, because it is not. Through the turbulence of my parent’s relationships as I was a child I collected an idea of everything I wanted as a parent myself. So I took the best of what to, and not to do that I had collected over nearly 20 years and will, for the rest of my life try to instill the best into my family.
One of the most important things my family has given me is my religious views. Being a Christian has strengthened nearly all of the main values that I have gotten from my family from taking pride in my work to being accepting of those around me and is very important to this day. Religion has shaped many, if not most of my beliefs. Many of the prominent figures in my life were from my family, such as my father’s parents. Not all, but most of my family is religious and many of those influential people have had a very strong religious relationship.
My religious roots originate directly from my family, some of which attended church every day of the week and served frequently, and given their experience and many years of service and attendance in church, work, family, and life in general, they made very good role models. Many people would say that it is foolish to take your views on such an important part of one’s life from one’s level of understanding as a child, which is probably good advice.
So as I have become older and more aware, I have collect more information from things such as religious text as well as many other people, including their interpretations into my spiritual truth. But after all of the shifting and changing of my religious landscape, I still hold a few principles to be extremely important. The first is treating one’s neighbor as their self. This encompasses a large spectrum of ideas which are rather subjective, but today I still believe in helping others as if they were close kin. I believe that it is very important to take pride in what I do, work or otherwise.
To me each person praises the lord when they use given skills to their full, sociological productive, potential. Other than the principles that religion has given me, religion gives people a sense of greater belonging as well as introducing me to many of my closest friends. The last major influence in my life would be my media. The media has shaped me in how I view many of the things I have already stated. Many of my politics have been substantiated by the media by informing me on other’s views and allowing me to come to my own conclusion of what is right and most logical.
The media has also given those, who have access to it, an international voice and the ability to raise awareness to many global issues. Though the media has shaped me I do not always agree with what is plastered on magazines, the television, radio, and the billboards. Because of the other institutions in my life, I can still fall back to the more sustainable aspects of my life, such as my religious and my family values which allow me make better decisions, and be supported in the decisions that I make.
The sociological imagination is “the ability to connect the most basic, intimate aspects of an individual’s life to seemingly impersonal and remote historical forces. ” (Gish) The most pertinent sociological institutions, or intimate aspects, in my life were, and are, my family, my religion and the views that it entail, and the media. These intimate aspects have helped me shape many aspects of my life including everything from my views of politics, the way I view and interact with others.
Every part of who I am can be whittled down to the basics traced back to someone or something else’s history which helps to make sense of who each and every one of us are today.
Coneley, Dalton. You May Ask Yourself. 2nd Ed. New York: W. W. Norton &Company Inc, 2011. 3-48. Print. Gish, Kathleen. "Sociological Imagination. "12. FA. SOC. 1101. 280 INTRO TO SOCIOLOGY . Sinclair Community College. 444 West 3rd Street, Dayton. 06 September 2012. Lecture.