knowledgevolume ix • issue 2 • spring 2011journal editor H u m a n i t i e s

knowledgevolume ix • issue 2 • spring 2011journal editor H u m a n i t i e s

Post a 1- to 2-paragraph response to the following prompts:

Describe a value or behavior that you think studying sociology might help you understand. You can choose a behavior you do not like (e.g., a teenager constantly looking at his or her cellphone) or a value you treasure (e.g., integrity in the workplace).

Explain why you chose the value or behavior.

How might you use your sociological imagination to better understand the value or behavior you chose?

Refer to 2 specific examples from the readings provided or other sources you find. Be sure to include information about each source, including title, author, year, and page number. If you refer to concepts from your Interactive Units, note the unit and element (lecture notes, video, etc.) to which you refer.

1st article

The sociological imagination is the practice of being able to “think ourselves away” from the familiar routines of our daily lives to look at them with fresh, critical eyes.

Sociologist C. Wright Mills, who created the concept and wrote the definitive book about it, defined the sociological imagination as “the vivid awareness of the relationship between experience and the wider society.”

The sociological imagination is the ability to see things socially and how they interact and influence each other. To have a sociological imagination, a person must be able to pull away from the situation and think from an alternative point of view. This ability is central to one’s development of a sociological perspective on the world.

The concept of the sociological imagination can be applied to any behavior.Take the simple act of drinking a cup of coffee. We could argue that coffee is not just a drink, but rather it has symbolic value as part of day-to-day social rituals. Often the ritual of drinking coffee is much more important than the act of consuming the coffee itself.The second dimension to a cup of coffee has to do with its use as a drug. Coffee contains caffeine, which is a drug that has stimulating effects on the brain. For many, this is why they drink coffee. It is interesting sociologically to question why coffee addicts are not considered drug users in Western cultures, though they might be in other cultures. Like alcohol, coffee is a socially acceptable drug whereas marijuana is not. In other cultures, however, marijuana use is tolerated, but both coffee and alcohol consumption is frowned upon.


Crossman, Ashley. “Definition of the Sociological Imagination and Overview of the Book.” ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020,

Learning Transformations: Applied Sociological Imaginations from First Year Seminars and Beyond


Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge

Volume IX • Issue 2 • Spring 2011

Journal Editor:

Mohammad H. Tamdgidi, UMass Boston


This Spring 2011 (IX, 2) issue of Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge, entitled “Learning Transformations: Applied Sociological Imaginations from First Year Seminars and Beyond,” includes nine UMass Boston undergraduate student papers: seven from two sections of the first year seminar, Soc. 110G: “Insiders/Outsiders,” one from the course “Youth and Society” (Soc. 201), and another from the course “Elements of Sociological Theory” (Soc. 341), all taken during the 2010-2011 academic year at UMass Boston. The authors cultivate their sociological imaginations of the link between their personal troubles and broader public issues by exploring topics such as: difficulties with writing; struggles with overachievement; adolescent depression; pessimism; obsession with body self-image; pornography and love; drunken driving; feminine identity formation; and coping with personal traumas amid parental, sibling, and societal dysfunctions. The editor points to the significance of publishing undergraduate scholarships of learning and their sociological self-studies, highlighting the extent to which the origins of the present journal entitled “human architecture” can itself be traced to his own “student selves” and early undergraduate education in architecture at U.C. Berkeley, and specifically to a seminar he took with his undergraduate teacher and advisor, the late “professor of design” and renowned painter, Jesse Reichek. Contributors include: Thanh D. Pham, Iris M. Rivas, Melissa Mejia, Ryan J. Canillas, Michaela Volpe, Rose Bautista, Jennifer Cervantes, Ann Barnes, Melanie Maxham, and Mohammad H. Tamdgidi (also as journal editor-in-chief). Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge is a publication of OKCIR: The Omar Khayyam Center for Integrative Research in Utopia, Mysticism, and Science (Utopystics). For more information about OKCIR and other issues in its journal’s Edited Collection as well as Monograph and Translation series visit OKCIR’s homepage.

The various editions of Learning Transformations: Applied Sociological Imaginations from First Year Seminars and Beyond are also available for ordering from all major online bookstores worldwide (such as Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and others).