Initial Post Instructions Sociologist C. Wright Mills preferred to call the sociological perspective the sociological imagination, and he saw it transforming personal troubles into public issues. Let us begin our discussion this week by considering suicide, which is thoroughly explored in Chapter 1 of the textbook.
For the initial post, address the following:
How does the sociological imagination help to examine private acts such as suicide within a larger societal context? What are some examples of social forces influencing youth suicide trends in the United States, suicide trends in India, and suicide trends in the U.S. military? Use the sociological imagination to explain your observations, and how the sociological imagination helps us consider the causes and possible solutions to suicide.
Follow-Up Post Instructions Respond to at least two peers or one peer and the instructor. Further the dialogue by providing more information and clarification and/or include perspectives from outside scholarly sources shared in the discussion forum by classmates and/or the instructor.
Minimum of 3 posts (1 initial & 2 follow-up) APA format for in-text citations and list of references Include citations from at least the assigned textbook/lesson reading and one additional outside scholarly source to support your response.
Grading This activity will be graded using the Discussion Grading Rubric. Please review the following link:
Link (webpage): Discussion Guidelines
Course Outcomes (CO): 1, 2
Due Date for Initial Post: By 11:59 p.m. MT on Wednesday Due Date for Follow-Up Posts: By 11:59 p.m. MT on Sunday
Kendall, D. (2018). Sociology in our times: The essentials (11 ed). Boston: Cengage Learning.
Sheila Farr (Instructor) Aug 25, 2019
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As you begin to analyze “the sociological imagination, I encourage you to ask yourself the following question: “How can you analyze other situations, not just suicide as you will do in this question using what you have learned about the sociological imagination.” It may be helpful if you have this question in the back of your mind as you are addressing the various parts of this discussion question. I think this discussion will be a lively one!
This discussion covers the following outcomes: (CO #1 ) (PO #1 & #3) as outlined in your syllabus.
http://www.popularsocialscience.com/2013/04/29/t he-sociological-imagination-thinking-outside-the- box/
Sameera Farhood Thursday
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Suicide is more than a private act amongst oneself. The sociological imagination helps us place seemingly personal troubles, such as loosing one’s job or feeling like committing suicide, into a larger social context, where we can distinguish whether and how personal troubles may be related to public issues (Kendall, 2018). It helps us take personal troubles, that are happening worldwide, and make them into public issues. For example, in New Delhi, India, a new economic boom has increased suicide rates in the 15-29 age category, especially high among those living in the wealthier areas. Many people would read about an economic boom and automatically think about how the civilians living in that area must be living a “good” life, when in reality, it is causing a major public issue behind the scenes. The result? Intensified job anxiety, higher expectations, and more pressure for individual achievement (Kendall, 2018). The sociological imagination is the reason today that we are able to take personal troubles, such as suicide, and link them to many different public issues, figuring out what the cause is. It has helped us focus more on the social problems causing individuals to act out rather than blaming individuals for creating their own problems, making them act in such ways. Many sociologists have also used the sociological imagination in a way to explore the relationship between suicide and today’s society, creating theoretical perspectives. One perspective that was applied to suicide is the Symbolic Interactionist Perspective which focuses on studying at a microlevel, analyzing people’s face-face interactions and the roles they play in society. From this point of view, a suicide attempt may be a way of garnering attention-a call for help- rather than ending ones life (Kendall 2018). Social forces influencing youth suicide trends starts with what one see’s, hears about or is exposed to. About a third of respondents reported hearing about cutting from an outside source, such as books, magazines, TV, or friends. In some instances, it was picked up from friends who were engaged in the practice. These findings suggest that some self-injurers do in fact learn the practice from others ( Taylor & Ibañez 2015). In today’s society I have observed many different things when referring to suicide. I believe that there are still problems with people blaming an individual instead of trying to solve the issue, whether it is personal or public; I have also seen many areas, globally, attempt to reach out and help suicidal people, making them feel like they have another option, another reason to continue living. Overall, the sociological imagination has helped us look deeper into the causes of suicide, analyzing the individual at a micro and macro-level, which has helped us realize the private issue is more of a public issue in todays society.
Taylor, J., & Ibañez, L. (2015). Sociological approaches to self-injury. Sociology Compass, 9(12), 1005-1014. doi:10.1111/soc4.12327
Kendall, D. (2018). Sociology in our times: The essentials (11 ed). Boston: Cengage Learningth
Amber Britt Yesterday
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Hello, Sameera! I loved your interpretation of C. Wright Mills sociological perspective. I also agree that a problem often seen is blaming. I’d personally have to say blaming is another form of and/or can lead to shaming which is a big concern for me. An approach I’ve recently learned about that can help minimize such acts are social support as introduced in the functional perspective of sociological imagination! Like any plan, it could be disrupted, leading to a disorderly system, so I encourage anyone dealing with their own “private affairs or distresses” to continue to seek help and guidance and to be reminded that their problem is not being faced by only them but others too (global interdepence—a relationship in which the lives of all people are closely intertwined and any one nation’s problems are part of a larger global problem).
Eric Devich Yesterday
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Sameera, I agree that personal troubles refer to the problems affecting the individuals, that the affecting individual, including other members of the society, typically will blame on the individuals own personal and moral failings. As you have said, blaming is a form of rejection that society uses to reject a person who made mistakes or failed at something. Instead society should do everything to still accept that person and help pick them back up. Just like Amber said in her reply, there are many things in society that will help an individual. Social Support definitely is a big one. Social issues are the main reasons why individuals commit suicide. When society makes you feel like you belong, you get a since of being wanted. This in turn gives that individual a since of purpose. Appraisal support is another key concept that should be followed. Having another person to get reasonable advice from to help in a certain situation is very beneficial. I agree that the Social Imagination helps us to get a bigger picture of what may cause suicide and being able to look at the smaller details, which help us to realize that an individual issue is more of a public issue.
Amber Britt Yesterday
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One would think their struggles are supposedly lived alone and told they are brought on because of their own personal actions and decisions. C. Wright Mills proposes those thoughts to be disprovable through a systematic study called sociological imagination. It is simply not ‘you vs. the world’, but you AND the world. This perspective gives one the ability to differentiate experiences of oneself and societal molding and to see private affairs like financial instability or unemployment are caused by social causes like environmental concerns or even poverty. Social Imagination is constructed of research methods (e.g. surveys, questionnaires and interviews) and theoretical perspectives such as the functionalist perspective and symbolic interactions which views society on a microlevel.
Global interdependence—a relationship in which the lives of all people are closely intertwined and any one nation’s problems are part of a larger global problem (Kendall, 2018)
is introduced when grasping an understanding of the relations of both personal distresses and public affairs. Mills points out that your problem is faced by others but even so your simple daily activities like jeopardizing study time to scroll on a social media platform and like pictures. (Examples of Sociological Imagination, n.d.) Sociological imagination, encourages one to think outside of their norm, to remove themselves and think beyond in certain approaches, global for example. Society removes individualistic decision making. One might think that their subconscious decision to take a certain route over the other or choice to purchase a specific brand instead of the other is commonsense, almost like an un-doubtly right decision that’s been shaped by past experiences. C. Wright Mills deems “commonsense” not commonsense at all but rather myths. (Kendall, 2018 p.6) For example, memes created by users on the internet and shared by thousands a day can be said to be agreeable or felt need to be. They encourage groupthink and could produce harmful outcomes like suicide. Memes or rather social media ultimately, are big social forces influencing suicide trends in the United States. Social media includes any coverage that can be seen, heard or experienced like tv shows (copycat suicides), the news, and peer pressure from (cyber)bullies or friends who’ve attempted themselves. Social media in the U.S. even effects our food and drinking consumption which becomes social rituals that places more importance on the symbolic value of a cup of coffee or tea than the food itself. A cup of tea could be more than for a health benefit but rather social interaction or coffee for its drug effects on the brain rather taste. (Crossman, 2019)
Is the saying, “money can’t buy happiness” true? The economic boom in Dehli, India proves it to be. The suicide rates in India are highest amongst the rich, in ages ranging from 15 to 29, as well the well educated. (NDTV.com, 2012;Lancet 2012; Kendall, 2018 p.7) It is understandable that with wealth and proper education more opportunities are introduced, however, so are job performance anxieties, mental and health issues (e.g. sleep disorders, depression, heart issues) and weakened relationships with people because of moving. When people move because of an increase of income, they lose social support which is expressed to be very important in the functionalist perspective of sociological imagination. The functionalist perspective, when disrupted leave people to question their lives and their ability to live it. One study that examined the functions of social support in reducing or preventing suicidal ideation in Air Force personnel during U.S. combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan found that all forms of social support were not equally important in protecting individuals against suicidal thoughts or actions. Esteem support played a big factor in the severity of the Air Force personnel’s thoughts of suicide. (Kendall, 2018 p.15)
Sociological imagination helps identify the causes (and indirect preventions) and solutions by placing flaw in public issues rather than a person’s life’s decisions. Shame is a factor I’ve observed that results in suicide and many seemingly private acts like it. Others shame people into losing their interests and rob them of the fact they are human. This shame tactic is often seen with teen pregnancies, addiction, homelessness, incarceration and even simply music taste. Resources for help and guidance in certain communities are limited or not utilized as a result of self-shame or fear of being ridiculed.
Overall, the sociological approach has allowed for us the opportunity to look more in depth to an act deemed private. It allows us to take the action of an individual that would other wise be classified as personal and relate it to and identify society’s role in that action. We are able to then use theories and perspectives to help further understand an individual and find solutions to help.
Kendall, D (2018) Sociology in our times: The essentials (11 ed). Boston: Cengage Learning
Examples of Sociological Imagination. (n.d.). In YourDictionary. Retrieved from https://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of- sociological-imagination.html
Crossman, Ashley. (2019, March 26). Definition of the Sociological Imagination and Overview of the Book. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/sociological-imagination- 3026756)
Sheila Farr (Instructor) Yesterday
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Thinking specifically about the connection between personal troubles and public issues, do you think there are any social problems in which this connection is hard to make? For example, can you look at poverty in general from this perspective?
Sameera Farhood Yesterday
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Poverty from a sociological stand point can be interpreted in many different ways. Two main ways are; someone living in poverty brought it upon themselves or someone is living in poverty due to the society they live in and social forces around them. Generally speaking I truly think linking poverty (a personal trouble) to public issues is a hard connection to make.
Think of it this way, you can attempt to link poverty to unemployment issues globally but; not everyone who is unemployed is poor and not everyone who is poor is unemployed. Poverty is one of those things that is not fully understood yet due to the many different people/social classes dealing with the issue.
I do believe that there are some social forces and public issues that can be linked to poverty, especially those who are dealing with it while employed. For example, you have a single mother who is living in poverty while working a full time job but she’s only being paid minimum wage and she has to provide for herself and her child. With that example, we could definitely link minimum wage being too low (a public issue) to poverty (a personal trouble).
Although looking at poverty from a sociology stand point can be difficult, there are some ways you can look at it from the perspective of linking a personal trouble to a public issue.
Eric Devich Yesterday
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The Sociological Imagination helps to examine private acts such as suicide in a larger societal content as explained by the Sociologist C. Wright Mills. He helped individuals see the relationship between personal experiences and the larger social world. Suicide is more of an individual act of oneself that may be the result of personal troubles or social issues. Personal troubles are private problems that affect individuals and the networks of people with whom they regularly associate (Kendall, 2018, p. 6). Today, there are many trends in different countries all around the world that influence the current rise of youth suicide. One example, in New Delhi, India, suicide rates are highest in the 15-29 age category and are especially high among those living in the wealthier and more educated regions of the nation (NDTV.com, 2012;Lancet 2012; Kendall, 2018, p. 7). One might believe that in the world today, areas of great wealth would have lower risk of suicide. When in reality, they have the highest risk. Intensified job anxiety, higher expectations, and more pressure for individual achievement (Kendall 2018, p. 6). People would normally think the poor and uneducated would have the greater risk of suicide.
Some trends that are increasing youth suicide in the United States are income, gender disparities, age group differences and risk factors. In the United States, females are more likely to commit suicide than males. Some risk factors may include not having access to healthcare, to help prevent the chance of an individual committing suicide. Trends that lead to suicide in the U.S. Military may include unequal social support or companionship. Tangible support, which an individual has someone who is willing to help them with money or assistance. Appraisal support, which requires having someone to listen and hear problems and provide useful information on how to solve them. Esteem support deals with having people show concern for an individuals well-being and have confidence in that individual to overcome any obstacle. Esteem support was found to be one of the most important factors in whether the Air Force personal had experienced severe suicidal ideation (Kendall 2018, p. 15).
Today, the sociological imagination allows us to bridge the connection between why an individuals problems and thoughts of suicide occur in relation to problems in society. Social issues are the main reason why individuals commit suicide. Being able to distinguish between personal troubles and greater social issues is the true heart of of thinking sociologically (Wiley 2015). I have observed many ways that suicide has been expressed to the public. Whether it has been on television or on social media. It does not help that almost everyone in the world has easy access to both of these and in return is exposed to the ways that some individuals live their daily lives. Seeing this puts an added pressure on individuals who may not live an extravagant lifestyle. Individuals posting on social media such as, Facebook and Instagram, expressing a new job and are advancing up the ladder of success. Individuals today are triggered by this because they may not possess the same skills and advantages that some individuals may have. Many times individuals feel that their failure to get hired is a personal problem due to a poor interview or lack of experience (Wiley 2015). Another problem in society today are structures. Structures are “common and persistent roles and relationships that shape human interaction (Wiley 2015). Relationships could be husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, employee and employer. Problems between structures can lead to suicide. Whether it may be an argument between a husband and a wife or the loss of a job to an employer. Both of these are reasons in a society that lead to suicide. Individual choices of a person reflect how they see themselves. Society looks at individuals who are different from the rest and considers them to be outcasts. Individuals involved in teen pregnancy, drugs, or even who smoke are open targets for society to single out and look at differently. Social media has a big influence on depicting this and how these individuals are shown. Television shows picturing women who became pregnant at a young age and now have trouble supporting there children because they’re trying to go to school and work at the same time. All of this shows what can happen after making poor choices. Society today looks down on individuals who make the poor choices. As a result, that individual becomes ignored and feels like they are not accepted anymore in society.
Overall, C. Wright Mill’s Social Imagination has helped us to paint a bigger picture and really understand how society has an influence on the lives of its people. If we don’t make a change, suicide as a resort to end individual problems will continue to rise. It is clear that being aware of structures and institutions can drastically alter the way we view the world. They act as tools within the greater sociological imagination to help us think critically about why individuals may make choices (Wiley 2015). Being able to analyze the smallest problems with the biggest problems of an individual, will help to understand how an individual issue can become more public in society.
Kendall, D. (2018). Sociology in our times: The essentials (11 ed). Boston: Cengage Learning
Wiley, Jeanette. “Sociological Imagination: A Critical Way to the World (Community, Environment, and Development: An Undergraduate Research Journal).” Community, Environment, and Development: An Undergraduate Research Journal (Penn State University), 6 May 2015, https://aese.psu.edu/students/research/ced- urj/news/2015/sociological-imagination-a-critical- way-to-the-world.