Sociological Imagination-“The Sociological Big Picture” C. Wright Mills wanted people to know that outside of ourselves and our personal problems, we are being shaped by the external forces that surround us in society. Whether people are aware of it or not, they are being influenced by society and its factors. The location in which one lives, the nation’s current economic standing, government affiliation, and more are all effecting people in some way.
When living in a broadened social experience where things are all interconnected to one another, it has the power and potential of influencing our human behaviors and impulses that are not internally inherited as Mills suggests, but rather shaped by society. The location where a person lives helps bring meaning and shape the ideas of social acceptabilities. For example, in the Amazon basin of South America the Yanomamo Indians see very differently than people of America.
This primitive tribe find normalcy among hallucinogenic yopo trips, villages where peoples attire are loin cloths, and a society composed of hunters and gatherers. Whereas Americans who are surrounded by urbanization, consumerism, materialism and so on may find the Yanomamo way of living off-putting. Also, the nations economy can affect citizens like after keeping 350,000 students out of school for seven days, teachers in Chicago are ending their strike after some negotiation.
Chinese artist, internet blogger, and activist, Ai Weiwei was detained by the Chinese government after trying to find the names of the thousands of victims lost in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake; which authorities were refusing to give out to civilians. This only fueled his dislike of the Chinese government, which he had a tendency to expose in his blogs and artwork. In China where the internet is monitored heavily by the state, unlike other places around the world, often Weiwei’s political opinions of China’s autocracy became censored.
After three months of detention, Weiwei was released on bail. When society can influence people, one must be willing to pull themselves away from a narcissistic point of view and adapt to a perspective where you are able to evaluate the “sociological big picture”. Building a sociological imagination can create within oneself the ability to truly see what others see and why people act the way they do whether it be stone age indians, claimant mobs, or dissident artists: we are all shaped by society.