C. Wright Mills's Sociological Imagination

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The sociological imagination, a concept coined by C. Wright Mills, is defined as, “the awareness of the relationship between personal experience and wider society.” The sociological imagination is not an innate way of thinking, therefore its inverse is commonly referred to as the ordinary way of thinking. People who think ordinarily, do not make connections between what is happening in their own milieu and what is happening in the larger society they live within. The memoir of Michael Patrick MacDonald, All Souls, recounts his experience growing up in South Boston and perfectly illustrates the ordinary way of thinking. He and his family faced countless hardships and struggles that were merely side effects of larger societal issues, yet…show more content…
Even after this pertinent information came to light, the family was still in disbelief, “I still wasn’t going to believe Frankie was in that casket until I saw him”(MacDonald 186). No one in the family could fathom that someone as upright, and clean cut as Frankie would die like that. Their ordinary way of thinking obstructed the MacDonalds from seeing no matter how revered Frankie was, he was not immune to phenomenons which plagued Southie society, drugs and violence. This lack of understanding is particularly exemplified in the Ma’s futile effort to go, “after the whole criminal ring (MacDonald 191),” responsible for Frankie’s death. In actuality it was much more than the actions of a couple individuals that caused Frankie to die, but the indentured patterns of crime which defined their neighborhood. The death of another MacDonald son, Davey, once again reveals the ordinary thinking used by the family, but this time on the topic of suicide, rather than drugs and violence. On a hot August afternoon, Davey, the eldest of the MacDonald children, jumped from the top of the Old Colony building, landing on the pavement, resulting in severe injury, and eventually death. If it was not apparent enough from the jump, Michael found broken bottles that Davey had used to slit his wrists on the roof, proving that his death was not accidental but suicidal. There was something insanely taboo about committing suicide in an Irish Catholic community, yet it did not change the fact
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