Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It's Shocking What A Sociological Imagination Can Reveal

The most major way sociology will change your way of thinking is what sociologist C. Wright Mills called a sociological Imagination. Mills calls the "sociological imagination" the merging of biography (a person's experiences) and history (where and when a person lived). So in other words, where you live and when live greatly affects the individual who you are. Obviously, a child born in Japan will be greatly influenced by Japanese culture - he will speak Japanese and acquire a taste for Japanese foods etc... This much is obvious. But in Milgram's study (revisited in the video above), he finds that we are influence in more subtle ways. Most of us would like to believe that we could not be convinced to electrocute a stranger. We would even take it personally, thinking, "I would never do that" or "that's sick" or "I think for myself - my better judgement would not let me do that." But the reality is that many of us would do that and it would not be solely our faults. We have been influenced to follow those in charge. We have been trained to be obedient and to follow status symbols. Once we begin to realize these influences are upon us, we can begin to try to unlearn them. Can you see how these subtle influences might be at play in your own life? Understanding the sociological imagination can change how you think about your own life and how we all think about the world. One group working to make social science more important and relevant is the sociological imagination group.