Sociological imagination is a framework that helps individuals to connect their personal challenges or experiences to issues affecting the broader society. Most personal problems are not entirely attributable to personal matters but can also be influenced by social norms, culture, and habits. For example, an individual’s challenge in getting a job may not be due to a lack of knowledge and skills but rather to the increasing economic inequality within their society. Therefore, the sociological imagination enables individuals to see the affiliation between their own experiences and issues in the larger society within which they live (Mill 5). In this context, sociological imagination will be used to connect a peer’s personal troubles with a larger societal issue.
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My cousin’s friend Carla has been struggling with obesity for over seven years. Due to her weight gain, she was constantly bullied in high school, which affected her performance and her social relationships. The constant bullying also made her lose her confidence and develop low self-esteem. As a result, even after high school, Carla barely attends any social events and still struggles to establish and maintain positive relationships with other people. She fears that people may stigmatize her due to her being overweight. In addition, obesity has also exposed Carla to several health complications. She has suffered from high blood pressure on several occasions and has recently developed some depressive symptoms due to social isolation and low self-esteem.
The conflict theory highlights that society will always be in conflict due to the never-ending competition for limited resources and power. The struggle for finite resources, in turn, results in social inequalities. According to Marx, “The history of all previous societies has been the history of class struggles” (74). This statement implies that the challenge of social inequality, which affects the current society, has existed even in previous societies.
Marx emphasizes that class antagonism developed during the social revolution due to conflicts between the bourgeoisie (owners of production means) and the proletariat (laborers). Class antagonism progressed throughout history, and it is the basis of unequal social structure in the world today. Some social problems like poverty result from a natural disparity in society. Therefore, no matter how the world evolves, there will always be differences in social classes.
Karl Marx’s conflict theory can be used to explain the connection between Carla’s obesity and issues of social structure. In this case, Carla’s obesity may not be due to personal problems but to her social class. Carla comes from a low-income background were obtaining a healthy diet is extremely expensive. Research has linked some cases of obesity to food insecurity (Adams 2). Due to financial challenges, Carla’s family has relied on less costly diets, mostly involving a lot of unhealthy junk food. In addition, most of the food stores in her neighborhood only supply lower quality and less healthy foods which the surrounding communities can afford.
As a result, it is rare to obtain fresh fruits and vegetables in nearby stalls. Likewise, the financial challenges may have hindered Carla from engaging in effective exercise to help in weight loss. In most cases, vigorous physical activities require equipment and facilities which are paid for. Therefore, Carla’s obesity may have been caused by financial constraints, which is a characteristic of the low-income class. The economic challenges may have prevented her from accessing healthy diets and engaging in vigorous exercise.
Adams, Jean. “Addressing Socioeconomic Inequalities in Obesity: Democratising Access to Resources for Achieving and Maintaining a Healthy Weight“. PLOS Medicine, vol. 17, no. 7, 2020, pp. 1-3. Web.
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Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. Yale University Press, 2012.
Mills, Wright C. The Sociological Imagination. Oxford University Press, 1959.