Throughout the course of this semester of social justice with Dr. Quist-Adade I have learned and unlearned many things. One important thing that I talk about in my reflective essay last spring was bracketing. I still feel that this is one of the most important concepts learned however it was more important for me last spring as that was my first sociology course and there were many things that I had to get my head around. However, this term I found the most important for me was sociological imagination.
I found that this semester sociological imagination was a term that I kept coming back to. There were many videos and articles where this term came into play. The term was one that I understood when we first started talking about it; however, it kept coming back up therefore I learned more and more about what it means. Sociological imagination it defined as the ability, capacity and quality of mind that allows an individual to understand and connect their life with the forces that impact it. It also means the ability to see ones like as an intersection of biography, history and social structure. All the videos we watched and articles we read helped build and shape that definition and put it into context.
Sociological imagination was used a lot this semester. One instance was in the article about a cup of coffee. I had always known were coffee came from and last year I was able to see how my purchasing of a cup of coffee could affect someone (or more than one) person in another part of the world; however, I did not think about it to the extent that I did this year. A coffee been is grown in one part of the world, often roasted in another and possibly even packaged in another. This is not to mention all the other things that we put in our coffee like milk or cream, sugar and all the special syrups used in todays coffee shops. So I affect not just one person when I buy a coffee not even a few people, but my daily purchase of a coffee affects many people.
Another situation this semester that really had me thinking about my sociological imagination was we watched the videos on coltan mining and on sweetshop labor. In groups we discussed what we could do in both instances; yet, I feel like there is not much I can do. It’s a horrible feeling but looking at what stores sell ethical clothing is seams everywhere I shop (and can afford to shop) uses some sort of sweet shop (of course this needs farther research which I intend on doing). I also need a computer and a cell phone for school and communication in our part of the world. So I continually contribute to the reinforcement of both of these horrible trades by consuming these goods; however, in the part of the world I live in and the schooling I’m doing, I have very little choose. This realization has bothered me for a few weeks now and I can see very few solutions. For example, when I go to buy new cloths one thing I could do is find out what brands truly uses fair labor, which will be hard, but worth it. In the other case, (the case of the coltan which is mined unsafely by young children who should be in school and sometimes don’t even get paid for their work) the only thing I can think of doing for now is not buying all the brand new electronics that contain coltan but to be happy with the ones I have.
Over all, this term has shattered my preconceived perception of sociological imagination. I though of it as a nice little idea that showed me how I can help people in other countries just by keeping my daily routine up. However, this semester I have learned that the sociological imagination is much more than that it is also a way of seeing the bad thing we reinforce everyday with our purchase of various goods.