The Sociological Imagination

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate July 2001

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"The "˜sociological imagination' is seeing how the unique historical circumstances of a particular society affect people and, at the same time, seeing how people affect history."� In essence, while it is the surrounding society that forms and individual, society itself is made of the individuals it forms and influences. Whether or not one acknowledges it, each individual biography has been affected by society. But at what point does an individual's problem become one of society's problems? Is there a pattern amongst things that happen in individual's lives that make these things general society trends? Jessica's biography epitomizes an individual's trouble in relation to an issue of an entire society. Jessica is a seventeen year old prostitute living in the projects of San Francisco. With a drug addiction that she could not afford to support, she turned to the streets for money. She spent her nights trying to make some quick cash on the corner, just to spend her days in an abandoned house, shooting up.

One evening a thirty-year-old man named Herman offered her fifty dollars in return for sexual favors because he was un-satisfied with what he was getting at home. Herman was a married man of only six months. He foolishly left the condom wrapper in the car, and his wife later found it and divorced him. In the divorce, Herman lost half of his money to his wife and was fired from his job. Ironically, he worked for Jessica's father. Herman longed for comfort in all the wrong places and quickly wasted away the rest of his money on prostitutes, eventually leaving him out of work and broke.

Even though both Herman and Jessica's individual lives are full of corruption, and the majority of society does not live their lives in such a manner, they do represent...