sociological perspective or imagination

1. Define the sociological perspective or imagination, cite its components, and explain how they were defended by C. Wright Mills. The sociological imagination is defined as being a way of thinking that helps us use information or data to form theories about the social patterns around us. We collect information and from that information we may make judgments or prediction. However we cannot view society in one’s own point of view. Everyone is different so it is important to not only form our own theories but also to take into consideration other theories. It is not possible to understand why people act the way they do if we are not open to hearing their reasoning and thoughts. Our own thoughts are only one version of a sea of other versions, an important component of sociology.

C. Wright Mills said that by using the “sociological imagination” we have a better ability to see patterns in society and identify how these patterns influence individuals and groups of individuals. We have all heard the saying “never judge a book by its cover” or “never criticize another until you have walked a mile in their shoes” that is the sociological imagination. Hearing other stories or theories to help create and change our own. Mills book “The Sociological Imagination” written in 1959 focused on the relationship between “individuals” and “society”. He explains the difference between personal issues and public issues. For example unemployment, if a man is laid off he takes it as a personal failure if a group of other individuals are also being laid off it becomes a public issue. We can use the social imagination to see patterns in these trends. The same is said for divorce. By understanding others we create theories and can predict outcomes. 2. What is meant by the terms “ascribed status” and “achieved status” provide an example to illustrate how a person’s ascribed status could influence his or her achieved status. “Ascribed status” is defined as being characteristics that you have little or no control over, but that impact how people perceive you. Skin color is a perfect example of ascribed status. We cannot change our skin color; we are born how we are born. To this day, racism still exists and although we cannot change who we are we are still judged for it. Skin is just one characteristic others include: race, age, gender, and height are all characteristics that define our ascribed status. “Achieved status” is defined as being an earned social position. For instance we go to college in hopes of getting and degree and landing a fancy job, so we can lead that comfortable lifestyle we want to live.

We create goals to achieve to influence or change our socioeconomic status, because by being rich, poor, or middle class we are treated differently. Although most of us would like to think that it doesn’t, our ascribed status can change or alter our achieved status. An example could be applying for a job. Both potential employees have the same qualifications, the same recommendation but one is Hispanic and the other is Caucasian. Although it is illegal to discriminate between races when seeking potential employees it still happens. Sometimes employers will hire the Hispanic over the Caucasian because they don’t want to be considered racist. Either way, whoever is given that job will hopefully thrive at the job while the other is left still seeking a job. 3. Discuss how conflict theorists explain deviance.

Deviance is different among all people. All people have a different concept of deviant behavior and all have different modes of punishment, if any, for that behavior. We have a number of different sociological theories to explain deviance. The three that I found to be most fitting are The Cultural Transmission/Differential Associations Theory, The Control Theory, and the Labeling theory. The Cultural transmission/Differential Association theory states that all behavior is learned; therefore deviant behavior is also learned. The deviant “teacher” passes on the learned deviant behavior. If we are only taught normal behavior then wouldn’t we only express normal behavior? If we are taught deviant behavior then we are often more likely to perform deviant behavior. I find this to be the most relevant theory for deviant behavior.

The Control Theory states that “normal behavior” is shaped by the power of social control mechanisms in our culture. This theory also asks the questions: Why do we not commit deviance? Basically this theory constitutes why normal behavior is normal behavior and because we act “normally” we thrive in society and that is the reason for the “norms”. The Labeling theory states that deviance is a social process whereby some people are able to define others as deviant. It is not until a label is given to someone by someone else in a position of social power that the person actually deviant. In other words if a person of higher status labels that person as deviant then that person is a deviant, but until that person is labeled deviant they are not considered deviant. I think of this theory as a judge being the higher status and until that judge convicts the felon or “deviant” he is otherwise not until proven guilty.

Crossman, Ashley, Sociology – Sociology information, resources, and news from… The Sociological Imagination. Retrieved November 11, 2013, from Kpohazounde, Grace. (2010, February). C. Wright Mills, “The Sociological Imagination”, 1959. Retrieved from Vissing, Yvonne. Chapter 1 & 3. An Introduction to Sociology. Bridgepoint Education, Inc.. Welcome to Valdosta State University. Sociological Theories To Explain Deviance. Retrieved Nov 09, 2013, from

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