The concept of “sociological imagination” is one that can be explained many different ways. A simple way to think of the sociological imagination is to see it as a way a person thinks, where they know that what they do from day to day in their private lives (like the choices they make), are sometimes influenced by the larger environment in which they live (Mills 1959, 1). What C.W. Mills meant by this concept is that it is the ability to “understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external career of a variety of individuals” (1959, 3). In other words, the concept of sociological imagination is the ability to realize that the choices people make and their personal environments are often
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Mills expalins this when he says, “Seldom aware of the intricate connection between the patterns of their own lives and the course of world history, ordinary men [people] do not usually know what this connection means” (1959, 2). Mills essay describes how sociological imagination is very beneficial to the average person (even though a lot of people don’t use or understand it) when analyzing their own milieu and how their milieu is affected by and connected to the larger society in which they reside.
When reading the works by Stephanie Coontz, Simon Davis, and Charles A. Gallagher, it was easy to see that all three have sociological imaginations. This was even more clear when referring back to C.W. Mills’ explanation and examples of sociological imagination. In the work by Coontz, she explains how relations between adults and teens are strained, not because there are more bad kids or bad parents, but because of changes in the social structure (1997, 8). Coontz explains this by saying, “The most common dilemma facing adolescents, and the one that probably causes the most conflicts with adults, is their ‘rolelessness’ in modern society …. today’s adolescents have very few opportunities to do socially necessary work” (1997, 8). By explaining the personal trouble between parents