Sociological imagination

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The knowledge of one’s personal experience and the larger society has been described as sociological imagination. The description is based on C. Wright Mills’ work (Schulenberg, 2003). In the film I, Daniel Blake, the aspect of sociological creativity is portrayed. The adventures of the main character, Dave Johns, as Daniel Blake, represent the personal interactions that an individual might have at the expense of society. Katie, who also happens to be a co-star in the film, feels the same way. Daniel and Katie’s personal experiences have played a significant role in deciding society’s reaction to them. Analysis of Sociological Imagination to Explain the Experiences of Daniel and Katie in I, Daniel Blake

The social outcomes depend on the actions that one undertakes. In I, Daniel Blake, the society expects one to gain from the actions they undertake. Daniel has been diagnosed with a heart condition that evidently makes it hard for him to execute his duties. Because of the same, he expects his employer to provide him with the employment and support allowance that will be instrumental in enabling him to manage his life. However, the society has the expectation that an individual ought to be paid for services that they render. An individual cannot have pay for a service that they have not rendered. This explains the reluctance of the organization Blake is an employee of to provide the employment and support allowance. Consequently, Blake ends up facing the harsh side of the society because of the expectations that have been enacted.

Sociological imagination requires that one shift from their typical thinking to a new one. Notably, it requires a change of routine from the typical way of doing things to a new method. The issue is depicted in the case of Katie who is stranded on how she can feed her children. She has to make a decision that entails shifting from leading an ordinary life to a different one where she ends up engaging in shoplifting to make ends meet. Ordinarily, one would not be expected to engage in such adverse way of doing things since it is not right to shoplift to make ends meet (Chancer, 2014). Despite the fact that she is justified to act in the way that she did, it is critical to acknowledge that the society has particular imaginations regarding how one ought to conduct themselves. Katie defies the sociological expectation since she is forced to use all the means possible to find means of providing to her children. Consequently, the sociological imagination reiterates the fact that there is need to understand the fact that certain things in the society could lead to given outcomes (Reeves, 2011). Therefore, Katie’s inability to provide food for her children has subjected her to unexpected means of survival including shoplifting. Katie is merely acting as a caring mother to provide food to her children by all the means possible. Her actions, however, may be judged by some because of the expectations that individuals have regarding how people should conduct themselves. Nevertheless, it is critical to ensure that one does not judge Katie’s actions on the grounds of the measures she takes to make sure that she provides for her family.

Sociological imagination identifies the need to have an individual think themselves away from familiar routines of each day and look at them in a different perspective (Fuller, 2006). The reasoning can be applied in the case of Daniel’s employer who denies Daniel an allowance because of his condition. The experiences witnessed by Daniel are hugely attributed to the failure of the employer to deviate from the usual thinking that expects one to work continually if they are to earn any benefit. The understanding that at some stage in life, one may have challenges that affect their ability to work is critical in ensuring that the employer makes the right judgment. In the film, I, Daniel Blake, Daniel is a victim of failure by the employer to adopt the concept of sociological imagination that is needed to ensure that one they look away from typical thinking to a new one. For example, in the film, it is evident that Daniel has a medical condition that is barring him from discharging his duties. Because of the same, he is forced to take time off on the advice of his doctor. However, because he needs to have a source of income, he expects his employer to do the right thing and grant him an allowance. Unfortunately, the employer fails to act in a dignified manner and instead ends up denying him the allowance based on the report from the work capability assessment that is conducted. It is unfortunate that Daniel has to undergo the painful experience of not getting the allowance while at the same time not being able to engage in employment because of his medical condition actively.

Adoption of Sociological Perspectives to explain Circumstances Responsible for Personal Troubles experienced by lead characters

The aspect of working is an issue that can be viewed from a particular sociological imagination based on the experiences encountered by Katie and Daniel. Work can be considered as a measure of making a living. However, the same concept can be considered from a different perspective. Daniel depends on work to earn his daily bread. The same picture is depicted in the case of Katie who goes looking for employment to earn a means of providing to the family. However, the same concept can be seen from a different perspective where one is seen engaging in employment for personal satisfaction (Simpson and Elias, 2011). Some choose to engage in work as a way of ensuring that they meet their career objectives. Even though the end result will be earning some remuneration, a different perspective can be undertaking job activities to advance one’s job interest. Relating the same to the troubles encountered by the lead characters, their dependence on work as a source of income is attributed to the problems that they are facing. This is manifested in terms of the problems encountered by the two. For example, Katie is forced to act as an escort because it is the only work she can get to earn a living. Despite the problems associated with the nature of the work, Katie decides that she has no option but to work in a bid to provide for her family. Indeed, the society has set certain expectations making it possible for individuals to view work in different ways (Watson, 2009).

The social structures have been designed in such a way that the man is expected to be the sole provider in the house. The decision by Daniel to befriend Katie, a single mother, somehow transfers the responsibility of providing for the family to Daniel. Under the knowledge of such a responsibility, Daniel decides to look for a job, despite his medical condition after being denied the employment and support allowance by his previous employer. The decision to do so is guided by the fact that Daniel would be eligible for the job seekers allowance that can somehow make it possible for him to provide for himself, Katie and her children. It is unfortunate that the social structures in the society have somehow had an impact on the way in which Daniel conducts himself. It is critical to acknowledge the sacrifices that are being made by Daniel, that despite his heart condition, he opts to work out ways of earning a given income. Further, the issue is depicted in Daniel calling upon Katie to shun the escort job that the security guard helped her acquire. The decision to do so is guided by the understanding that being the sole provider, a man needs to ensure that they provide to the woman. Daniel makes the decision to have Katie stop the escort job in the hope that he being the man, will find ways of providing to them. It is critical to acknowledge that such a decision is made despite the fact that there is no bond holding Daniel and Katie except that they are friends. However, because of the structure of the society, a man feels obligated to be the provider (Rubin, 2012).

The society plays a fundamental role in dictating the decisions made by both Daniel and Katie as regards to how they live their lives. The society requires people to work regardless of their situation. This is depicted in the case of Daniel, who under the guidance of his work coach decides to work harder in search of a job. It is worth acknowledging that Daniel is in a poor state of health that does not warrant him to be actively engaged in any work-related activities. However, because it is the expectation of the society for one to conduct themselves in a given way, including fending for themselves, a man has to ensure that they defy all odds to make sure that they secure a job (Lange, 2015). However, it is essential to acknowledge that Daniel is aware of his condition but still insists that he has to work. The reasoning can be attributed to the sociological perspective that it is the mandate of the man to ensure that they fend for themselves despite the situation that they are facing (Reeves, 2011). It is out of such reasoning that Daniel decides to overlook his medical condition and decides to seek employment. Through the same, it will be possible for him to earn a jobseeker’s allowance and make ends meet. He looks for work in an industrial estate with the hope that it would be possible for him to secure a means of earning some living. It is critical to acknowledge that the efforts adopted by Daniel are only supposed to meet the expectations of the society. Consequently, the outcome of his actions turns out tragic as he ends up suffering a heart attack.

Further, the understanding that the society is expected to treat people humanely makes Daniel decide to file an appeal regarding the need to be paid because of the inability to work. The society is structured that in the event that a particular individual is aggrieved, there are systems in place that have been enacted to help address such issues (Morgan and Kleinman, 2010). The challenges faced by Daniel made him decide to file for an appeal. Based on the judgment made by the welfare advisor, the chances are that Daniel would win the case because of the problems that he had undergone. However, of core significance is to acknowledge that those facing particular issues should look for better ways of dealing with them. It is out of such reasoning that Daniel files a case with the hope that the decision arrived at will help him solve the problem. Unfortunately, Daniel does not make it. He passes on at the lavatories because of a heart attack.

Further, the society is structured in such a manner that one will be able to earn support from others if it is perceived that there is unfair treatment. The sociological perspective is that the unfair treatment would result in sympathy and this can result in eliciting of course of action (Shuttleworth and Meekosha, 2012). Daniel is motivated by the support he gets from the passersby. He acts out of such motivation to file for a case that would probably help in him solving the problem that he was facing. The sociological perspective held by the society saw him earn benefits but also gets arrested by the police, after being given a warning.

Finally, the sociological perspective focuses on viewing a general issue from a particular viewpoint. The troubles encountered by both Daniel and Katie can be looked at in a given specific way despite the generality that is depicted in the same. For example, generally, Katie is seen taking measures to help Daniel, especially with the court case process. Ordinarily, one would think that the decision by Kate to help Daniel is guided by the possibility of earning some benefits. In the event that the court rules in favor of Daniel, then chances are that his employer would have to compensate him. The effect is that both Daniel and Katie would have much to live for. However, the decision made by Katie to help Daniel is guided by the fact that Katie is kind-hearted and only willing to help because of the common problems that they were both facings. The particular perspective of viewing the issue is on looking at the nobility of the action.


Overall, the film has depicted crucial insights regarding the sociological imagination. The lead characters Daniel and Katie have acted in ways that have portrayed thought on the manner in which the society views various issues while at the same time taking into consideration the personal view of the same. The plot has been critical since it enables the understanding of events and the relation of the same to the society. The events that have unfolded in the film have been instrumental in understanding the aspect of sociological imagination with a focus on the perspective the society has on various issues. Consequently, the film provides significant takeaways that build from events of the film.


Chancer, L. (2014) ‘C. Wright Mills, Freud, and the psychosocial imagination.’, in The unhappy divorce of sociology and psychoanalysis: Diverse perspectives on the psychosocial., pp. 190–202. Available at:

Fuller, S. (2006) The New Sociological Imagination, Sage Publications. doi: 10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004.

Lange, E. (2015) ‘(Re)igniting a sociological imagination in adult education: the continuing relevance of classical theory’, International Journal of Lifelong Education, 1370(October), pp. 1–23. doi: 10.1080/02601370.2015.1028574.

Morgan, C. and Kleinman, A. (2010) ‘Social science perspectives: A failure of the sociological imagination.’, Principles of social psychiatry (2nd ed.)., pp. 51–64. Available at:

Reeves, S. (2011) ‘Using the sociological imagination to explore the nature of interprofessional interactions and relations’, in Sociology of Interprofessional Health Care Practice, pp. 9–13.

Rubin, B. A. (2012) ‘Shifting social contracts and the sociological imagination’, Social Forces, 91(2), pp. 327–346. doi: 10.1093/sf/sos122.

Schulenberg, J. L. (2003) ‘C. Wright Mills: Tracing the Sociological Imagination’, Sociological Imagination, 39, pp. 47–65. doi: 10.4337/9781782540038.

Shuttleworth, R. and Meekosha, H. (2012) ‘The Sociological Imaginary and Disability Enquiry in Late Modernity’, Critical Sociology, 39(3), pp. 349–367. doi: 10.1177/0896920511435709.

Simpson, J. M. and Elias, V. L. (2011) ‘Choices and Chances: The Sociology Role-playing Game–The Sociological Imagination in Practice’, Teaching Sociology, 39(1), pp. 42–56. doi: 10.1177/0092055X10390646.

Watson, T. J. (2009) ‘Work and the Sociological Imagination: The Need for Continuity and Change in the Study of Continuity and Change’, Sociology, 43(5), pp. 861–877. doi: 10.1177/0038038509340726.

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