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The Sociological Imagination Personal Troubles vs. Public Issues.

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Presentation on theme: "The Sociological Imagination Personal Troubles vs. Public Issues."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Sociological Imagination Personal Troubles vs. Public Issues

2 Personal Troubles Occur within the character of the individual...and within the range of his/her immediate relations with others. These have to do with one’s “self” Personal troubles are “private matters” “Solutions” appear to stem directly from individual decisions.

3 Public Issues Have to do with matters that transcend the individual…especially his/her inner life. They have to do with larger social systems and historical process. Issues are public matters that in some way affect everyone in a given collectivity. “Solutions” transcend individuals.

4 EXAMPLE ONE Eating Disorders History of Eating Disorders Cause of Eating Disorders –When viewed as “personal trouble” Cause of Eating Disorders –When viewed as “public issue”

5 EXAMPLE TWO Women and Happiness By almost every social and economic indicator, the last 35 years have been positive for women –Controlling reproduction, obtaining more education, working in male professions, gender-wage gap has declined, they live longer, men are doing more housework Are women “less happy” or “more happy” today than they were 35 years ago?

6 EXAMPLE TWO Women and Happiness They are “less happy” This is true for working women, stay-at- home women/moms, married and single women, highly and less educated, moms and childless women, young and old EXCEPT: black women are happier today How can sociology help women?

7 EXAMPLE TWO Why might women be “less happy”? Their anticipated happiness 35 years ago was overinflated Women’s lives are more like men’s lives – and men are less happy than women There was pressure in the past for women to pretend they were happy – even when they weren’t –So they erroneously reported being happy

8 EXAMPLE THREE You have a group of friends and you’re a non believing liberal Democrat Some are happy and other are not so happy Some are extremely religious and others are atheists or agnostics Some are conservatives and others liberals You are not so happy and you want to be like some of them but not like others You try to mimic their personalities by asking them what their secret is…until…

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11 EXAMPLE FOUR SEXUAL ACTIVITY AND COLLEGE When we ask (young) college students about the sexual activity of their peers: –They think they don’t have enough sex –They think others have lots of sex Naturally they feel: –Happy about this? –Unhappy about this? –Neither if they attend a Christian college…

12 EXAMPLE FOUR SEXUAL ACTIVITY AND COLLEGE From a 2005 study: 80 percent of students had 0 or 1 sexual partner in preceding year 59 percent had no sexual activity in previous 30 days But only 22 percent of those students believed that fellow students had one or no sexual partner Most believed that “most other” students had 3 or more sexual partners

13 EXAMPLE FOUR SEXUAL ACTIVITY AND COLLEGE When students learn this information and interpret it through the lens of sociology… It makes it a lot easier to take cold showers or stay home and have sex with themselves.


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