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Interesting Things About Sociological Imagination

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Sociological imagination stems from the somewhat basic principle that people in

societies follow a general set of trends. What one individual may be experiencing, or

how an individual may be behaving, is unlikely to be part of a unique situation, and a

single person’s actions often connects to a larger, societal pattern. The sociological eye,

or the ability to view and analyze often overlooked aspects of a society’s tendencies

(Korgen & Atkinson, 2019), plays an important role in connecting people’s’ motives,

behaviors, and actions to a particular group of people — allowing the sociologist to

connect individualistic behaviour to broader aspects of a community. Both sociological

imagination and the ‘sociological eye’ are vital observational and critical thinking traits

that are necessary to begin to change ‘unwanted’ societal behaviors, such as those

concerned with race, religion, and socioeconomic inequalities.

As a personal example of this would be my use of social media (Instagram). I

created, and still maintain a large page, now home to over 150,000 followers. Instagram

is not only a way for me to connect with others all over the globe; but it is a source of

income, a way of sharing ideologies, interests, and hobbies with other people. It is easy

for me to forget that when I wake up, and share my morning post, that hundreds of

thousands of people all over the globe will view what I have to share; and that those

hundreds of thousands of people also have their own lives, routines, and reasons for

using social media. Almost every single person who views a post of mine (some with

500,000 views plus) has a unique reason to use social media, and that in itself is

mindblowing. Social media brings people closer – allowing those who live thousands of

miles away to stay in contact with ease. Instagram, for me then, is an immensely

powerful tool that can both show me, and influence, distinct societies. Even within the

people who engage in my posts, there is a distinct society. My wide reach of followers

represent thousands of unique societies: from varying religions, countries, political

views and hobbies. Society can traditionally be defined as “a people with a common

identity, shared culture, under the same political authority, and in the same geographic

location.” (according to BaruchCollege.org), but with the addition of social media, this

definition can certainly be challenged. No longer does a society have to exist in a

common geographical location. Someone from Australia and someone from Switzerland

can both share similar hobbies and interests, and interact as if they were physically

together. Social media has almost ‘shrunk’ the world down, and I see this everyday on

my posts, even with the different languages in the comments. It is easy to forget that I

am not the only one creating content on Instagram, and that there are millions, like me,

that use social media as a tool: to promote, encourage, illustrate and share their stories.

In summary, with the rapid globalization of societies around the world, it seems as

though everyone is using social media in one way or another, and it’s implications are

merging, shaping, and influencing societies; almost giving us new perspectives on the

study of sociology as a whole.

What sparked my decision to interact with, and be a large part of, social media

was absolutely influenced by society. Firstly, most people in my generation use social

media as a tool to connect with and meet like-minded people, and secondly, society’s

pressure to succeed well means being able to balance time working, time ‘playing’, and

time studying (at least throughout higher education). The first point, although self

explanatory, is an important aspect to consider; not only 50 years ago, people did not

have access to the platforms we use today, and communicated via other, largely

spoken ways. Now that the world is ‘shrinking’, and we have such easy access to

societies all around the globe, does this mean that the strength of our once tight-knit,

independent societies are weakening? Does the influence of large pages, such as mine,

have an impact on once isolated communities? We see this with globalization of the

world, with ‘western’ ideologies and business spreading globally. Seeing the impact I

now have on so many people, I am especially respectful and welcoming of all religions,

languages, cultures and ideologies represented on my page – as to not influence any

pre-existing societies. With the second societal expectation I briefly mentioned, so many

people in universities drop out due to finances — not being able to work enough to pay

for their education. Social media marketing is a relatively new technique that businesses

are employing to promote their products and services. With the ease of exposure to

over 150,000 people, businesses will pay top dollar to promote their products to my

followers. This creates a mutual benefit: businesses gain sales and exposure, and I am

able to work for just 30 minutes a day, giving me time to both study hard, and play hard.

This allows me to conform to society’s pressure around education while also supporting

myself for the future, and to give myself the best chance for success.

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