The human as a social being cannot live outside of society and those norms and values that shape interpersonal relationships. Various factors related to personal demographic and other characteristics largely determine the status of an individual, his or her behavior, as well as attitudes on the part of other people. When analyzing my life, I can note several social patterns, or forces that have influenced my perception of the world and shaped me as the person that my environment knows. Mills’ concept of sociological imagination is relevant in this case because it is a framework that enables “to understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external career of a variety of individuals” (2). As sociological categories that I consider fundamental from the perspective of influencing my life, I single out the gender, education, and social status. The intersection of these concepts and their unique manifestations have become significant factors that explain the formation of my life course and the acquisition of specific worldview ideas.
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From the time when I remember my early childhood experiences, I recall the manifestations of gender differences in my environment. When a child, my peers and I were asked to follow behavioral patterns that were based on gender distinctions. This manifested itself in games, household chores, and other activities where the distribution of roles was natural. Kos and Tašner emphasize the importance of these characteristics in the formation of social functions and argue that their impacts on the worldview make social choice limited (264). I agree with this because the gender stereotypes inherent in me by adults have persisted over the years. Although I have learned about the movements of feminism, equality, and freedom of expression, I have retained the traditional ideas of a patriarchal society with its well-established norms of male dominance over women. Therefore, I am sure that if a child grows up in an environment where the difference between the genders is intentionally emphasized, this knowledge is reflected in later life, as in my case.
While applying the concept of sociological imagination to the characteristics of gender, I want to note that this criterion has influenced not only my inner worldview but also my external achievements. Striving to prove myself, I have always strived to be successful regardless of the type of activity, be it playing with peers or a career path. The ideas I was taught from childhood about the difference between men and women have strengthened my belief that not all people can be successful. Therefore, following this conviction, I have always desired to prove to others that I am capable of more than society expects from me, and this desire underlines my attitude to social stereotypes, particularly gender bias.
Concept of Education
Along with the characteristic of gender, I want to note the role of education as a criterion that has influenced the development of my personality and the formation of social ties. Kos and Tašner call education “cultural capital” and explain this by the fact that as new knowledge is acquired, a person becomes useful to society and can successfully realize individual strengths (267). As an elementary school student, I realized that adults wanted obedience from children through discipline, and good academic performance had always been perceived as a consequence of discipline. By adopting the appropriate behavioral patterns suggested by teachers and parents, I earned an image of someone who could be trusted with responsible tasks. Whether it was a school public speaking competition or a college conference, I had always wanted to do my best to continue following the patterns of elementary school. These habits also affect my daily life as I hate clutter and always strive to finish what I start on time. As a result, education has influenced me significantly by channeling my energies into discipline.
Due to the development of an appropriate worldview, I have acquired unique personality traits that reflect my personality. At the same time, my experience confirms Mills’ concept of the relationship between biography and social relationships as a determinant of sociological imagination (2). The more actively I adopt specific behavioral patterns, the stronger my social role is manifested. Therefore, by following the educational stimuli inherent in my childhood, I have developed the appropriate knowledge and attitudes, thereby forming an individual view of responsibility as an important social skill.
Social Status Category
Starting from middle-school age, I began to notice differences between my peers in social status. This manifested itself in minor nuances, such as clothing, hobbies, and other individual factors. Later, when I was in high school, distinctions differences became more pronounced, and in adulthood, I realized that with age, due to the growth of needs, the social gap between representatives of different social classes widened. I cannot categorize myself as rich, but my parents did their best to give me a good education and meet my needs. I know the value of money and labor, but when looking at peers, I notice that some of them have different ideas about social equality. Raised in high-income families, they have never faced the hardships of a lack of money, which affected their lifestyle. Although I have never been rich, I know what saving is. For me, a person who is experiencing financial difficulties is no less important for society because the criterion of material wealth should not entail manifestations of inequality. I am grateful to my parents for my upbringing, and I intend to convey the same values to my future children.
Looking back, I agree that school time is the stage at which many basic beliefs are formed. I also agree with the idea of the mechanism for the reproduction of social inequalities in school, which Kos and Tašner mention (268). Children, being dependent on adults, adopt different behavioral patterns. If social inequality is felt acutely in their families, this leaves an imprint on the child’s psyche. I cannot blame those who grew up in luxury and never knew another life. However, I condemn those who, having insignificant financial superiority, demonstrate their dominance openly since such behavior rather speaks of limited values. Thus, I accept the concept of social inequality, but I do not agree that it should be promoted openly.
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The characteristic life perceptions and attitudes that I have acquired are the result of the influence of the corresponding social forces and sociological imagination. Gender, education, and social status are the categories that I encountered as a child and that have influenced my perception of the world. The pursuit of success, discipline, and denial of inequality have become values for me, which have been shaped by the specific stimuli and influences of my environment. The influence of adults on children is significant, and the educational environment plays an essential role in personality development.
Kos, Živa, and Veronika Tašner. “Demanding Relations: Sociological Imagination, Education, the Usefulness of Concepts and the World Around Us.” Educar, vol. 57, no. 1, 2021, pp. 261-274.
Mills, C. Wright. “The Promise.” The Sociological Imagination, 1959, pp. 1-5.