A short introduction in which you define, in your own words, the notion of the “sociological imagination” and explain the way that it connects “private troubles” to “public issues.”

SOCI 1F90: Essay Assignment

Worth:         20% of final mark

For this assignment, I would like you to write a 1000 – 1300 word reflective paper that applies C. Wright Mills’ concept of the ‘sociological imagination’ (discussed in module 1b) to some aspect of your own life that you`d like to explore critically.

As you recall, this concept encourages us to situate our own individual experiences in a fuller social context, and to appreciate the extent to which many of our own “private troubles” reflect broader “public issues” which arise from the ways in which our society and culture are organized. In this paper, I would like you to choose one “private trouble” that you have faced in your life and to reflect upon the ways in which this trouble might be understood in sociological terms as a “public issue.”

Your paper should have 4 main components:

  1. A short introduction in which you define, in your own words, the notion of the “sociological imagination” and explain the way that it connects “private troubles” to “public issues.”
  2. A description of the “private trouble” from your own life you have selected, along with a short discussion of how it might be typically understood from an individual, non-sociological perspective.
  3. An attempt to re-interpret this private trouble as a “public issue” by using your “sociological imagination” to explore some of the social drivers and underpinnings of your personal experience. It might help to break this section down into 2 or 3 (or more, if needed) separate paragraphs that each develop one key argument or insight. In each of these paragraphs, try to use at least one or two “keywords” we have encountered in the readings this term to help sharpen your analysis.
  4. A concluding paragraph that recaps your argument and summarizes what you`ve learned.

Here are some online resources that can (in combination with the reading from Module 1b) refresh your understanding of the key concepts used in this assignment:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTcL8cEtCCc  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BINK6r1Wy78

https://courses.lumenlearning.com/alamo-sociology/chapter/the-sociological-imagination-add-image/  https://infed.org/mobi/c-wright-mills-power-craftsmanship-and-private-troubles-and-public-issues/#troubles  https://rampages.us/conradjm4/2016/02/10/private-troubles-and-public-issues/  https://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-sociological-imagination.html

The above resources are useful in terms of getting your head wrapped around the key concepts, but be sure not to copy or plagiarize them. Anything that you learn from them must be distilled into your own thoughts and put into your own words.

NB: this is a personal essay, so you can use first-person pronouns (“I” / “me” / “we”, etc) in your writing. That said, the focus should be on developing a clear, structured argument and not simply telling a personal story.

If you do outside research (eg. to get background details on the particular “public issue” you are discussing), then be sure to cite all of your sources properly. On Sakai, I will provide you links to style guides for proper citation practices and writing tips for integrating quoted material into your essay. We will also reserve some space on our group forums to discuss the assignment, brainstorm ideas and work through problems.

Please be sure to submit your essay in a common and accessible file format. For example: Microsoft

Word (.doc / .docx); OpenOffice (.odt); WordPerfect (.wpd); Adobe PDF; Rich text format (.rtf); Plain text (.TXT)

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