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Sept. 10 - Introduction to the course and the Sociological Imagination.docx

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Jayne Baker

Sept. 10 - Introduction to the course and the Sociological Imagination What is Sociology? Sociology is: “The systematic study of human behaviour in social context.” (Brym and Lie 2012:4) Sociology essentially understands the relationship between the individual and society. The way that individuals shape society and how societies may influence/shape our lives. It is systematically considering the relationship. It is the individuals in their “social context.” Society Individual Sociological perspective is to think beyond the individual. It is trying to understand things in a social context; to look at society more broadly. “Sociological Imagination” This is the ability to see the relationship between personal troubles and social structures. Personal troubles might be things like job loss, divorce, the ending of a romantic relationship, failing a course at school, mental health issue, etc. These are all individual experiences. Social Structures Social structures are “stable patterns of social relations.” They are the different building blocks of our society. There are enduring things that we see across generations that make up our society. Personal These are the different levels: (1) Micro – the intimate level: relations between families, Troubles friends (2) Meso – the organizational level: institutions like schools, churches, etc. These are the organizational patterns that exist. (3) Macro – religious ideas, social class, patriarchy (4) Global – global patterns that shape individuals. Globalization for example, countries, international organizations, etc. If you have a sociological imagination, you are making a connection between the personal troubles and the broader social structures that exist within different levels of society; you are thinking beyond the individual level. Example: Job Loss There are four factors of the job loss that can be considered: (1) Unemployment – consider the unemployment rates in your area. Suddenly, personal trouble is not just about work ethic; it could be an issue in your location. (2)
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