San Jose State University Sociological Imagination Social Science Paper

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Social Problems Report 2 and half
This is an assignment where you will apply a sociological imagination to explain a social
problem of your choosing. Remember that C Wright Mills described the sociological
imagination in the following ways:
The sociological imagination enables its possessor to understand the larger historical
scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external career of a variety of
The first fruit of this imagination and the first lesson of the social science that
embodies it is the idea that the individual can understand her own experience and
gauge her own fate only by locating herself within her period, that she can know her
own chances in life only by becoming aware of those of all individuals in her
We have come to know that every individual lives, from one generation to the next,
in some society; that he lives out a biography, and lives it out within some historical
sequence. By the fact of this living, he contributes, however minutely, to the shaping
of this society and to the course of its history, even as he is made by society and by
its historical push and shove.
The sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the
relations between the two within society.
What we experience in various and specific milieux, I have noted, is often caused by
structural changes. Accordingly, to understand the changes of many personal milieux
we are required to look beyond them. And the number and variety of such structural
changes increase as the institutions within which we live become more embracing
and more intricately connected with one another. To be aware of the idea of social
structure and to use it with sensibility is to be capable of tracing such linkages among
a great variety of milieux. To be able to do that is to possess the sociological
Therefore, to explain a social problem means that a sociologist highlights the structural and
historical causes of a social problem, not individual actions or psychology.
The assignment is to explain an issue by using what you have learned from a sociology course
you have completed, supplemented by news and sociology sources, to describe a social problem
and explain how we can best understand its causes and the reason it exists.

You should open the paper with an account of how the public issue is discussed in contemporary
society (in the news or in political debate, for example). Then, by the end of the first page, you
should shift to contrast how a sociologist with a sociological imagination would define the
problem and hence the solutions to the problem. Fully describe and explain the problem and its
causes, and then as a conclusion you can suggest solutions that are being offered by
sociologically informed advocates (such as yourself).

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