The term sociological imagination was coined by the American sociologist C. Wright Mills in 1959 to describe the type of insight offered by the discipline of sociology. The sociological imagination is the ability to see things socially and how they interact and influence each other. To have a sociological imagination, you must be able to pull yourself away from the situation and think from an alternative point of view.
It requires us to “think ourselves away from our daily routines and look at them anew”.To acquire knowledge, it is important to not follow a routine, you have to break free from the immediacy of personal circumstances and put things into a wider context. The actions of people are much more important than the act itself. The sociological imagination “is the capacity to shift from one perspective to another—from the political to the psychological; from examination of a single family to comparative assessment of the national budgets of the world; from the theological school to the military establishment; from considerations of an oil industry to studies of contemporary poetry. (Mills, 2000) To think sociologically is to realize that what we experience as personal problems are often widely shared by others like ourselves. The benefit of thinking sociologically according to Mills is that it allows people to gain empathy to others. It is easier to understand other people when you are going through a similar situation. In other words, this method allows people to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” and truly understand society.
Berger is perhaps best known for his view that social reality is a form of consciousness. Central to Berger’s work is the relationship between society and the individual.His analysis of society as subjective reality describes the process by which an individual’s conception of reality is produced by his or her interaction with social structures. Sociologist Peter Berger refers to the fact that sociologists see general social patterns in the behavior of particular individuals. This basically means that many individuals act in similar ways depending on society. Peter Berger compares thinking sociologically to entering a new and unfamiliar society – one in which “things are no longer what they seem. ” (Berger, 1963) There is a huge difference between thinking about social problems from an ndividualistic perspective and from a sociological point of view. When it comes to suicide, society basically frowns upon it.
But individuals all have their own views, although they may become warped due to society. If you look at it from an individualistic point of view, most people are against suicide and just see no purpose behind a person feeling that sad. But when looked upon with a sociological point of you, you learn that there are ways to help, and you can understand that a person who is suffering depression is not causing themselves pain because they want to.Another social problem that can be viewed two different ways is poverty.
When looked at with an individualistic perspective, many people tend to think that because they are not poor, other people shouldn’t be either. Without getting to understand the individual, most people just assume that the person suffering from poverty is either lazy or just doesn’t try hard enough. Once you look at the situation from a sociological point of view, you begin to realize that a homeless person or an individual suffering from poverty did not choose to be poor and suffer.