Sociological Imagination as social critique

The Significance of Sociological Imagination

The phrase "sociological imagination" refers to the significance and applicability of sociology to people's daily lives and the occurrences and events that have an impact on us all. Sociological imagination, which enables people to make connections between their own experiences and those of society, is typically utilized in the introduction sections of books and articles to describe the nature of sociology and how important it is. Wright Mills asserts that sociological imagination is not a theory (Mills, 2000). It is an outlook that allows individuals to have a wider look at the ways of life away from the events that occur around them daily; people can look into the sociological way of the whole society (Dinerstein, Schwartz & Taylor, 2014).

Understanding Sociological Imagination

The outlook developed by the individuals is mostly established by the understanding of one's biography and the historical occurrences within the society. Sociological imagination can also be described as the belief that the social outcomes are because of the things that are done by the individuals in the society. Different occurrences lead to various social outcomes; the incidents depend on certain factors, some of the factors include the motives and norms (Furze, Savy, Brym & Lie, 2011). The things that individuals do are influenced by; the values that they hold and believe in, the situations and circumstances that the individuals are in, the behavior of the people who are around them. The sociological imagination is the ability to understand the way the society and people interplay.

Factors Affecting Sociological Imagination

Sociological imagination on different individuals is affected by various factors, which include the motives of the person. This factor comes to play when a person looks at the gains that he/she is bound to make. Social norms are another factor; this factor is considered when the ways of life of the society are taken into account. Another factor that affects the sociological imagination of an individual is the social context of the residence place, for example, the country that the person lives in and the people with whom they have associations. The sociological imagination allows one to be able to change the way the people look at things, the capability of an individual to modify the perspectives, view other situations differently. In daily life, sociological imagination can be applied in many ways, for instance, taking a different perspective from the typical viewpoint (Housley et al., 2014). An example is making coffee; some people make coffee every day. People see taking coffee as a healthy practice while one could have a different perspective on it, he/she could say that the people consume coffee out of addiction. This case shows how sociological imagination is applied in real life.

Making Informed Decisions through Sociological Imagination

Sociological imagination allows one to have the ability to look at things from a third-party perspective, the individual goes out of his/her usual ways of imagination and viewing things and looks at them differently. This ability allows one to make a more informed decision other than being guided by social norms, this, in many occasions, leads to people making bad decisions because of being swayed by social norms (Agnew & Duncan, 2014). Through sociological imagination, people can make self-informed decisions, thinking differently makes people avoid situations that could be tyrannical. Individuals who do not have sociological imagination, in many cases, end up having apathetic conditions. This condition of apathy brings about many problems to the people. Some of the challenges that these people face include being used, not being able to stand for their moral beliefs once confronted with some situations.

Tips for Studying Sociological Imagination

Mills created a list of tips that can be utilized in the study of the sociological imagination reliably and validly. One of the tips that he proposed is being a good artisan; this allows one to avoid the strict set guidelines in creating things. It can translate to the sociological imagination; such individuals can have different visions from the social norms (Carrigan, & Kremakova, 2014). Another tip is avoiding the Byzantine oddity of disassociated and associated concepts, and the way that people converse. It helps in making people have a different imagination. Another tip is making a trans-historical construction that suits the work does, through this way, one can be able to have different visions (Selwyn, 2017). One should also not study a small milieu only; this will enable the individuals to develop a wider imagination area. Another tip is the realization of one's aim; this will ensure that he/she creates a greater vision. One should not allow the public opinion dictate his/her imagination, they need to create more images that are wider.


Agnew, J.A., and Duncan, J.S. eds., 2014. The power of place (RLE Social & Cultural Geography): Bringing together geographical and sociological imaginations. Routledge.

Carrigan, M.M.A., and Kremakova, M., 2014. Your daily dose of sociological imagination’: reflections on social media and public sociology. Warwick Sociology Journal, 26(10).

Dinerstein, A.C., Schwartz, G., and Taylor, G., 2014. Sociological imagination as social critique: Interrogating the ‘global economic crisis.’

Furze, B., Savy, P., Brym, R.J. and Lie, J., 2011. Sociology in today’s world. Cengage Learning.

Housley, W., Procter, R., Edwards, A., Burnap, P., Williams, M., Sloan, L., Rana, O., Morgan, J., Voss, A. and Greenhill, A., 2014. Large and broad social data and the sociological imagination: A collaborative response. Big Data & Society, 1(2), p.2053951714545135.

Mills, C.W., 2000. The sociological imagination. Oxford University Press.

Selwyn, N., 2017. Education, technology, and the sociological imagination–lessons to be learned from C. Wright Mills. Learning, Media, and Technology, 42(2), pp.230-245.

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