The Sociological Imagination

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Racial and ethnic differences can be better understood with the use of the sociological imagination. The sociological imagination is a term coined by C. Wright Mills that explains the ability to understand things socially. Using the sociological imagination, we can dissect racial and ethnic differences of the past to discuss the experience of these groups in greater detail. The sociological imagination is the term Mills uses to describe one’s ability to see things socially. It is the ability to switch perspectives and be able to see the relationship between the two, to understand history and biography within society (Mills 2). Being able to switch between personal troubles and public issues and understanding the difference and relationship of the two plays a huge role in the use of the sociological imagination (Mills 4). Mill’s uses unemployment as an example. In a large city where we have just one person unemployed, we have a personal trouble. You look into the individual to find the reason and solution. If in this city, more than half of the population is unemployed, we have an issue. Looking into each unemployed individual will not help here. We must consider the economic and political institutions of the society (Mills 4). Mills also uses the example of war. The personal trouble may be to survive or finding a way to contribute to the wars end. The causes of the war would be the issue in this situation. Also, an issue, if the war will affect economic, political, family or religious institutions. The sociological imagination enables one to understand the meaning of the larger historical scene. African American’s experience prior to the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 can be explained with the use of the sociological imagination. African American people were troubled. Troubled by the inequalities of their fellow man, some trying to survive and some looking for self-advancement. The feeling of inequality is what led Rosa Parks to refuse to give up her seat on the bus to a white man in 1955. Rebelling against inequalities such as this by the African American people is what drove the Civil Rights Movement. The greater issue was not that Ms. Parks was not allowed to sit in the front of the

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