Sociological Imagination: Case Study

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The sociologist C. Wright Mills has observed that people often believe their private lives can be explained only with respect to their own personal successes and failures. The process of interpreting one's life in the context of one's community or the society in which one lives is called sociological imagination. It is an important process because it lets the individual understand the impact one makes, no matter how small, on the lives of others. A good example of the process can be demonstrated by exploring the effects of one person's unemployment. The case of "Jane" is hypothetical, but there are many people in circumstances similar to Jane's as the American economy still struggles to recover from the mortgage crisis and resulting recession that began in 2008. Jane worked in the same school, "Fairlawn Elementary School," for seven years as a second grade teacher. Jane was tenured but because there is so little mobility in the small town where she lives and worked, the teachers at Fairlawn generally stay, once hired, until their retirement. Thus, Jane was the newest member of the professional staff and the first to lose her job when cuts had to be made. Jane is married and has two young children, ages four and two. Jane's husband is in the construction and remodeling business, which can be lucrative when he is working, but jobs are not always steady. The family relied on Jane's regular pay check. They also relied on her benefits; the school district offered a good
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