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Applying the Sociological Imagination
Sociological Imagination can be described as the analysis of ones personal issues and life chances in connection with the issues of social structures. Sociological imagination aids in critical thinking whereby one has to connect what is happening to him or her in terms of prices of products, labor market and who it affects to the larger structural system forces. The SI is about thinking in such a way, rather than internalizing the causes of ones problem and individualizing them. Rather, it is analyzing how the external social forces influence ones life. C.Wright Mills, defines Sociological Imagination as "the capacity to shift from one perspective to another...the capacity to range from the most impersonal and remote transformations to the intimate features of the human self - and to see the relations between the two" (Andersen & Taylor, 2011). This paper will apply the concept of Sociological Imagination to explain the personal problem I am facing, analyze the causes of the problem theoretically and offer solutions.
Currently, I am facing the problem of depression. Depression is one of the social problems associated with the conditions and changes of the social environment one lives in and events happening in his or her life (Andersen & Taylor, 2011). It is a psychological disorder where the victim experiences persistent feelings of emptiness, hopelessness and sadness. At least one in every five people passes through depressive position at least once in their life (Stange, Oyster & Sloan, 2011). However, there are many sociological factors that may contribute to this problem. In this paper, I will analyze the external influences that may have contributed to my depression, and the factors that continuously affect this situation from a sociological point of view. By incorporating theoretical applications relating to depression, I will come up with reasons why and who has affected my current problem.
The Problem - Depression
I started experiencing this problem eight months ago. There are many events and experiences that drove me into depression, but the most serious was the lack of a well-paying job and financial instability. My boyfriend lost his job last year due to forced retrenchment. He decided to change his line of career and went back to school for a short course. I was still in school by then. When I graduated, I saw many job advertisements and applied for several. However, I was not qualified enough for any of them. Personally, I prefer working in the fashion industry, which is my passion. Since we have a child, I had to take up a low paying job. Currently, I am trying hard to make ends meet; I am the breadwinner, a parent, and I am still studying thus paying my school fees. All this has reduced my self-efficacy, and I feel depressed.
There are several sociological factors relating to depression. The following are the sociological factors that have led to and affected depression in this case.
Unlike in the early centuries when chubby defined female beauty, the todays society associates beauty with slim, skinny sizes. If one misses the defined standards by at least an inch, then she fails the category of beautiful. This societal expectation is one of the reason I missed a well-paying job (Stange, Oyster & Sloan, 2011). I wish to look thinner to increase my chances to work in such a place later. The feeling that I am oversize makes me depressed and feel inferior.
Globalization is the increased interdependence and relationships of international markets. The economic downturn has led to many challenges for business operations. Many businesses are not thriving as they did before the recession. The purchasing power reduced dramatically due to recession, weakening the business industry. This, coupled with the introduction of more stringent regulations in some countries has driven companies to other countries with more favorable regulations. The businesses can survive only by cutting down on their expenses. One of strategies to achieve this is reducing the number of employees by either willing or forced retrenchment. Relocating the business to other countries or relying on imported goods reduces the number of jobs available in the importing country. Unemployment is, thus, a common phenomenon in our society. These circumstances led to my boyfriends job loss.
Inequality and Gender
Culturally, the society perceives females as the weaker gender. Therefore, the jobs availed to women are the less paying jobs unlike for men who get the well paying, higher jobs (Stange, Oyster & Sloan, 2011). The society perceives mens role as a breadwinner while women are fully or partially dependent on them. In that case, women who lose their husbands, or whose husbands or partners lose their jobs are much likely to get depressed since this loss affects them in a great way. In the West, the media deprives girls of their self esteem by through sexually objectifying images (Stange, Oyster & Sloan, 2011). Since women most likely internalize their problems, they end up in depression while boys and men engage in drug and substance abuse.
Since social events are able to cause depression, the same can prevent it from happening in the first place. Social support is one of the approved sociological factors that is known to help to prevent or reduce depression. Social support is the question of whether one has access to and is able and willing to use a network of interpersonal relationship to support him (Spielberger, 2004). There are various sources of social support for each such as family, friends, colleagues and other people who are close to an individual. Such people provide guidance, shoulder to lean on, love, entertainment, laughs and other physical and mental assistance. Such networks can help to change unhealthy living habits, or acquire new habits. Members can easily monitor ones system and notice any depressive symptoms one may be developing. In addition, belonging to a social network increases ones sense of self-worth. Meaningful connections with people, regardless of the number of people, help to prevent and buffer against depression and other illnesses.
For almost every individual, the family is the only closest people they can relate to at all times. The family assumes responsibility over each of its members. In each family, there is diverse number of beliefs and the way of upbringing. The way one was brought up may directly influence his or her future. For instance, if one went through traumatic experiences such as molestation, incest and domestic violence, chances of getting depression later in life are high. Such a person often fails to relate well with others, and chances are high that his or her marriage will fail. In addition, if one or both parents are stressed, it affects their children, and they get depressed too. Also, if, for some reasons, ones family abandons him or her or shows some resistance, that member is likely to get into depression particularly when he is confronted with problems.
Albert Bandura, in his Social Cognitive theory, suggests that the interactions between thoughts, behaviors and environmental events shape people. All these factors are interrelated. Consequently, the human behavior is largely the resultant of learning which may occur by observation or through direct experience. Bandura points out that the self-concepts of depressed people differ from those of the non-depressed (Carter & Seifert, 2012, 519). Though depressed people tend to hold themselves responsible for the bad things happening in their lives, the contrary is true. External factors cause their mischief. Bandura claims that depressed people have low levels of efficacy because they believe they have not done enough. Thus, they set themselves too high goals which they cannot achieve. Their failure lowers their esteem and leads to depression.
In conclusion, many depressed people perceive themselves as the cause of their problems. Many self-blame themselves; they internalize the causes of the problem. However, sociological imagination asserts that external sociological factors such as family, societal expectations, globalization, gender and inequality may cause depression. In addition, lack of social support leads to depression and access to it may help prevent depression. The Social Cognitive Theory confirms people are shaped by the interactions between their thought, behaviors and the environment they live in. The environment we live in comprises of the family, the community among others. The environment is subject to change, and is affected by events like globalization and gender. Therefore, we can conclude that the above sociological factors are the causes of depression in this case.
The only way one can know the root causes of his or her problems is analyzing the situation by connecting what is happening to him with the larger social systems. Internalizing ones issues and playing the game of self-blame does not establish the cause of these issues. Many social factors may influence our behavior. Sociological imagination is the ultimate way to find the causes and solutions to the problems we face in daily life.
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