According to C. Wright Mills, “Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both.” (Isaksen, 2016). The concept of Sociological Imagination was used by the American sociologist, Mills who motivated one to think away from the regular routine of one’s life so as to develop a whole new perspective and an alternative view (Isaksen, 2016). Sociological imagination thus allowed one to understand their position in a broader social context and history.
1. Write about a specific event in your life that is important
Although there are several special events in my life that I consider essential, there is one which I feel left an impact on my life When I was about twelve, my parents discussed the idea of adopting a child. I was old enough to understand things, but I remember that I was still not able to comprehend things fully. However, my parents explained that due to some medical complications, my mother could not have more children of her own. And as they wanted another brother or sister, for me and wanted a big family, the only option was to adopt a child. Still, they said they would go ahead with the idea only if I was comfortable with it. I remember getting excited to pick my own brother or sister, have the authority to name him or her. It was a new experience for my young mind. So, we went ahead and brought home my little Chinese brother, whom I named Steven. It has been a wonderful experience growing with him. Today, when I look back, I realize the value of my younger brother in my life. His presence reminds me that families can exist even without the DNA and adoption shouldn’t mean an unnatural family. He looks different from me, but he is still my brother. He knows he is adopted, but we have always felt like biological siblings. Looking at our family, I am sure many of those misconceptions about adoption or adopting children from a different ethnicity will dissolve.
2. Consider the political, economic, familial, and cultural circumstances
I was born into a middle-class African American family in the state of Texas. I was about 18 when America was struck by the Great Depression that went on for about a year. It was 1930, the year that saw the worst economic downturn in US history (Khan Academy, 2018). Banks failed, people lost jobs and most begged for food on the streets. Even my family was hit and my father, an African American was among the first to lose his job, He worked on a farm and the devastating drought in Texas that year, further degraded the situation. My father lost his job not just because of the Great Depression or the drought, but also because he was black. Thus, we had another battle of racism to fight. My father and I looked for part time jobs but were often ignored or given less salary or aid than whites. I wondered if things would have been different for us if we were white. For no fault of us, we were being punished or degraded further. Those years left a deep maker on my life as that was my first brush in life with racism.
3. Write about how your actions shaped the outcome of the specific event
The life from birth until death remains in flux and when examining the life course, it is about introspecting those arc of changes and how those transformations shape our life (Hendricks, 2012). Some changes can be credited to the social structures while diverse experiences add to one’s personality as one grows. When I look back at my life, I can still feel the pressure of deciding whether to stay in my marriage or get divorced. I lived in a conservative society where divorce is frowned upon. I knew I would get little support from my family if I took that step. I felt suffocated and helpless because of the social constraints and structures around me. Still, I managed to take that bold step and decide for my life and walked out of my marriage. Today, I feel proud of myself and my achievements. I educated myself further and got a better job. Today, I work at a senior level in a bank. The new circumstances I pushed myself into, and the challenges that forced me to work hard and fight back. Today, I am a much stronger and confident person. I wonder how my life would have been if I had decided to stay back in my marriage. Perhaps I would still be living within the four walls of a home, with no identity.
Hendricks, J. (2012). Considering life course concepts. The Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 67(2), 226-231. doi:10.1093/geronb/gbr147
Isaksen, J., V. (2016). The Sociological Imagination: Thinking Outside the Box, popular social science Retrieved from https://www.popularsocialscience.com/2013/04/29/the-sociological-imagination-thinking-outside-the-box/
Khan Academy (2018). The Great Depression, khanacademy Retrieved from https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/us-history/rise-to-world-power/great-depression/a/the-great-depression