Sociological Imagination (S. Nguyen)

DEFINE: This is a term that was coined by C. Wright Mills in explaining an individuals recognition of the relationship between large-scale social forces and individual action and biographies. This concept is based on the idea that individuals are able to think about their lives in the context of history and social outcomes. It a tool which enables individuals to see how social factors on different levels of society interact with one another and helps in understanding life outside of personal experience.
APPLY: Social workers and community organizers engage in the sociological imagination quite often, as this is a concept that is associated with cultural competency and social diversity. In understanding different populations and cultures which we are not familiar with, social workers need to be able to look at social issues from many different perspectives and also able to link historical meanings with those on the individual level.
ADAPT: In working with certain populations like war veterans, it would be helpful for a social worker to use the sociological imagination in examining the impact of war, policies of the US government, and other social issues and factors that contributed a client's or population's state of being.
Mills, C. W., (1959). The Sociological Imagination. Oxford Press, London.

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