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Aspects of the Sociological Imagination

A certain action is interpreted by different people depending on their reasons and the universal perception. The sociological imagination in this sense prompts an individual to think critically and differently about the particular individual and universal perspectives and be able to discern the thought behind particular actions and perceptions. Therefore, this paper will seek to define what sociological imagination is and give its advantages and implications to students. It will also explore the three versions of the sociological imagination and relate them to the life of a student.

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This paragraph will begin by defining the term sociological imagination and giving its advantages and implications for the life of a student. Sociological imagination involves a way of thinking about an individual and society by putting into consideration a wide range of sociological contexts (Treviño & Treviño 2021). Sociological imagination provides some benefits to students’ lives in a variety of ways (Garoutte, 2018). It helps analyze opportunities and limitations likely to be encountered, and navigate through life choices encountered in and out of school. Sociological imagination implies that it shapes the students’ decision-making skills, enables them to rationally and logically discern a task before performing or reacting to it, and is open to diversity at learning institutions. There are three major sociological imagination versions according to Tyler (2020). These include symbolic interactionalism, conflict theory, and structural functionalism.

A common structural interactionism question often asked concerning students’ lives is, what is it like to be a student? The structural interactionalist contends that being a student entails using certain symbols to establish meaning, developing perspectives about the world, and communicating with one another (Tyler, 2020). The meanings, interpretations, or stories associated with being a student maintains that students’ life includes enjoying a golden life full of happiness and freedom as it mostly involves interactions through discussions, parties, or even sports. Therefore, when asked what students’ life is, the rock-solid story would be that students’ life allows them to fail in the things they have experimented with and experienced thereby making their lives less stressful. Social networking is an important consideration in fostering the relationship between students’ lives and society. Therefore, structural interactionalism is an important version that explains the life of a student in terms of interactions with fellow students at the learning institution.

Structural functionalism has a general belief that students’ lives are an important part of the structure of society. In students’ lives, structural functionalism is understood in three terms according to Tyler (2020), there is social stability which asserts that there are social education centers, knowledge, attitudes, and social norms and values instilled in the students. On collective functioning, each of them constitutes social stability and has its function, however, are interconnected and dependent on each other hence when applied by the students and society, a balanced life is brought about. Therefore, structural-functionalist asserts that throughout students’ lives, the acquired societal needs prepare them for later societal roles.

The conflict theories assert that individuals and groups of people within the society are competing for limited resources. Students’ lives are usually laced with diversity in many aspects therefore, conflict theorists concede that students from less affluent homes are likely to have money issues and low-status quo (Tyler, 2020). The average-performing and struggling students are less likely to receive university and future careers skills hence more likely to attend community colleges and/or not receive student loans. Hence, conflict theorists concede that students’ life experiences are affected by unfairness or inequality in the distribution of educational opportunities.

Therefore, from the paper, it can be concluded that sociological imagination is both beneficial and has implications for the life of a student. Sociological interactionalism propounds that students assign meaning to certain situations in their lives out of interacting with others. While, sociological functionalism holds the values, norms, or roles students assume serves a purpose in society later. The conflict theories affirm that social problems among students arise due to inadequate available resources.


Garoutte, L. (2018). The sociological imagination and community-based learning: Using an asset-based approach. Teaching Sociology, 46(2), 148-159.

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Treviño, J., & Treviño, A. J. (2021). The Sociological Imagination. In The Emerald Guide to C. Wright Mills. Emerald Publishing Limited.

Tyler, S. (2020). Theoretical Perspectives. Human Behavior and the Social Environment I.

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