Sociology reflective essay-Sociological Imagination

For my last blog post I will be writing a reflective essay on sociology and on the sociological imagination. Before I took sociology I didn’t have much of an understanding or knowledge about society, I took an intro to psychology course in grade 12 but psychology is not the same as sociology and looking at society as a whole.

When defining the sociological imagination I found it’s quite complex and an interesting concept, it was coined by Charles Wright Mills. The sociological imagination is a certain view of the world and is used to understand individuals place in society. It’s important to know that people’s histories and biographies are a major contributor in determining roles in society and the sociological imagination is used to see how those biographies are linked. This term allows individuals to see their own life as being connected with others biographies, social structures and histories, it’s more of an intersection that means we are all interdependent on other people. The sociological imagination is an insight into the world of sociology, it allows social actors and sociologists to see how sociological situations play out depending on how people differ with histories and experiences. It allows an understanding and makes people think deeply about social occurrences, to expand a social imagination people must be aware and see events from an alternate view.¬†When using the sociological imagination the main focus is to know that the things we do are shaped by the situation we are in and many other factors that develop as the imagination is strengthened.

Knowledge is an interesting concept, there is an endless amount of info and knowledge to be learned and being educated could be a lifelong journey. When considering the sociological imagination it’s true that all of this knowledge and new learning opportunities will fully contribute to the expansion of the imagination. To know that by having somewhat, even a small amount of the sociological imagination, will allow a person to see the world they live in through a whole new view. That’s when it’s expected for people to debunk and take the old outdated info and compare and contrast that with new learned knowledge which will exercise the use of the imagination with a better understanding of society. With a well-developed sociological imagination people can see society truly and see where changes are needed, that’s where social actors play a role to see any inequalities or injustice and enforce change to better society for everyone.

The sociological imagination is also known as the sociological perspective and once educated on society and terms involving people and society as a whole people can use this perspective to see and realize the many components involved. A major task involved in gaining knowledge towards a sociological imagination is to be able to differentiate between personal problems from public issues. Personal troubles are individual shortcomings and public issues are issues out of the individuals control and in the social structure.The best accomplishment towards this task would be knowing the difference between the two ideas and knowing where the fault lies, whether it be blamed on the individual or the structure. The Sociological imagination is very complex and is a forever growing amount of knowledge that if put to good use could be helpful in improving issues in society.


The Race Game

When having conversations with friends and family I used the race descriptors and the main response I got was confusion. The descriptors were “white” “black” “yellow” and “red” and I used them in some conversations. My family understood why I used the descriptors after I told them but it was obvious they were confused as to why I was saying the races. A couple of my friends asked why I had used the descriptors when talking with them and I explained about sociology and how this is part of learning about race. I wasn’t totally comfortable using the race descriptors, I thought others would think I was being rude. We somewhat all know about race and ethnicity also about racism and discrimination, these are parts of everyday life, some play a larger role than others. Race makes people unique and interesting and backgrounds are what separate everyone. Doing this race game was interesting, how confused people looked when I mentioned the race before the person I was talking about. I think learning about race is important and makes everyone more educated and aware of races all over the world.

The Local-Global Nexus-Cultural Relativism

Chapter 1- Key Concepts and Recurring Themes
Theme/concept-Cultural Relativism
Definition-Cultural Relativism is the principle of regarding the practices, beliefs and values of the culture from the viewpoint of that culture itself. Customs and ethics vary among cultures so the judgment of right and wrong is a product of society. For a person to understand the ways of a culture or society they would have to use cultural relativism and understand that norms and values are culturally specific. This would mean that there is no worldwide approved model of morality so no one can judge or disapprove of a culture and no culture is superior to any other.

Explain local and global connections-Cultural relativism can be difficult to maintain when cultures conflict with each other. In the local sense cultural relativism can be understood by taking a look at religion. In a community or society, everyone has the right to their own religion, this means people can be a part of whatever religion they want to. Wether it be Christianity, Buddhism, Jehovah witness or atheism no religion is better and everyone has the freedom to choose their own religion. When religion is viewed through a culture relativism sense peoples beliefs can be culturally specific and no religion is right or wrong.
When using cultural relativism globally Iraq can be an example where cultural Relativism is used. In Iraq young girls are sometimes married off at ages younger than 15. When trying to understand the country and its people, foreigners have to use cultural relativism and realize that tribal or religious traditions allow early marriage and view certain Iraq customs from the Iraq position. Now cultural relativism doesn’t mean anything goes and there are limits in a moral sense of still acting humane. When using culture relativism a person can’t judge another culture based on that person’s own culture and customs, and must put themselves in the other culture and look through that alternative sense to have a more multicultural perspective.

Global example-video-woman gender issues and cultural relativism

Local example-Internet article-Sikhs wearing helmets/turbans

These two events are connected because in both situations people have had to view culture and customs from the culture being discussed. The video is a good global example because the woman speaking discusses how although the client being talked about was mistreated the speaker realize that she couldn’t just judging the clients situation. It wasn’t their job to judge, the speaker was part of a centre to just provide help to girls and woman, the speaker revealed that like using cultural relativism she can’t judge other cultures. The internet article discusses the dilemma of Sikhs wearing helmets or turbans. Wearing a turban is a religious act for Sikhs culture and some countries have recognized that and have allowed Sikhs to wear turbans instead of helmets while riding motorcycles. In the article Ontario has forced Sikhs to wear helmets, they view safety more important then religious acts and this is where cultural relativism is a debate because although religion is important Ontario official say safety is priority and a choice had to be made. Cultural relativism is a tricky topic and there are many opinions that differ when discussing this concept.

Reaction #3- To an Issue Discussed In Class

Since the course is very Social Justice based I thought a good issue to talk about would be Social Injustice. So this is the opposite of Social Justice but just as much of an important topic to discuss. When social injustice is present in peoples lives there is unfairness going against the people that prevents them from living life in equity and equality to others. It doesn’t matter who’s being affected or whats being affected it’s an injustice if there is a source of oppression or discrimination against someone. Social injustice is a major issue that prevents many from their right to a full human potential, this issue can ruin lives and should not even be tolerated but still social injustices are used against many. A social injustice can be subtle or direct and are very wrong, who’s to say that a person should be treated as less equal because of, say an ascriptive characteristic. No one should treat another as unequal or support inequality in their society and should use social justice so everyone is treated fair.

Reaction #2- To a Video link for video.

In the beginning of the course a TED talks video was shown to the class. It was by a women named Chimamanda Adichie who told her experience about the danger of the single story. She told a story about when she was a child reading books and how she started out reading British and American literature, she expressed how glad she was when finding African authors who saved her from having a sinlge story of what books were about. Whats interesting about what she shares of her history is how her view of Mexicans relied on how immersed she was in the media coverage of Mexicans and how she only had a single story or view of how Mexicans were. Its very true for her to say that as soon as people get a view or story about a country or about people, thats whats used as a base for how to view all people in that country or how that person always is by a single characteristic from a single story. I really liked how she described that the consequence of a single story was that people aren’t treated as fair or equal when only viewed through one story, and that one story allows people to view others as different rather then see them as similar. So there is a danger is telling a single story and in order to prevent stereotyping people must know the full story.

Reaction #1- To a Theory

For this response I will be discussing the Theory of the Duality of Structure of Agency.

This theory, from Berger and Luckmann, has the view that although people have free will and agency they act upon that in the confinements of the social structure which starts the distinction between structure and agency. Duality refers to the two sidedness of both structure and agency,and compares free will to social norms. When discussing the structure involved in humans lives, people are viewed as puppets being controlled without any free will to act on against the institutions in society. Structure is said to control people and sometimes they use this as an excuse to blame the social institution instead of taking responsibility for their actions.

With agency people practice their free will against structure. this view shows people that free will allows everyone to make their own decisions, this means that choices are made but some don’t make the best decisions for themselves and they only have themselves to blame and can’t blame society. an important point made in the description of agency is that the freedom to make own decisions can turn people to blame the victim and that their choices have led them to such a place, it’s not societies fault, and this mentality is wrong and won’t improve society at all.

I think that theres both structure and agency that works in peoples lives. More structure is involved then agency but thats just the way humans have worked for so long and structure may be controlling but it can also be guidelines for many for how to somewhat live life in certain societies. Agency is very important but to much agency is not good cause then people begin to act on their own which can go against important rules in a society and can cause disturbance among other members in that society if the agency is fully acted upon.

Response #5- To Class Lecture Notes

Looking back to my lecture note#2 I found that Ignorance is a topic that is discussed first. When our class went over the definition of ignorance I found that my understanding of ignorance was limited. It was surprising to learn that every one is relatively ignorant and that this is common in everyday life. What I found completely wrong with being ignorant is that its related to when people close their eyes to problems because they either don’t want to be aware of it or because it hasn’t affected them or anyone close to them. This is the negative side of ignorance that some have used for so long that they aren’t even aware they’re doing it. A main way to solve problems or issues is to address them fully and completely so be aware of it then try to work towards solving or improving the issue. Like our lecture notes pointed out everyone must humble themselves and have the humility to learn more, expand horizons and also share with others whats been learned so everyone is familiar with issues being faced.