CHAPTER 1: THE SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION: AN INTRODUCTIONSociology- the study of human society “Thinking like a sociologist” means applying analytical tools to something you havealways done without much conscious thought oIt requires you to reconsider your assumptions about society and question whatyou have taken for granted in order to better understand the world around youoIt means making the familiar strangeThe Social Imagination The sociologist C. Wright Mills argued that in the effort to think critically about thesocial world around us, we need to use our sociological imaginationoDEF: the ability to connect the most basic, intimate aspects of an individual’s lifeto seemingly impersonal and remote historical forcesMills describes it as the idea that the individual can understand his own experience andgauge his own fate only by locating himself within his period, that he can know his ownchances in life only by becoming aware of those of all individuals in his circumstancesHe also says that the sociological imagination also enables us to take into account howindividuals often become falsely conscious of their social positionsWhat Are the True Costs and Returns of College?Money in the future is worth less than money in hand for several reasons:o1. Inflationo2. We could invest the money today to make more tomorrow The average time it takes to complete a bachelor’s degree at a public university is 4.6years (round to five)Assuming you attend college for five years and retire at 65, you will have worked 42years (HS grads will be in the workforce for 47 years because they get a five-yearhead start) When we compare your college-degree-holding lifetime earnings to the lifetimeearnings of someone who only has a high-school education, we find that with acollege degree you will make about $500,000 more than someone who went straightto work after high school Getting That “Piece of Paper”Social theorist Randall Collins has proposed a medical education system called TheCredential Society: A Historical Sociology of Education and Stratification (1979)which argues that expansion of higher education has merely resulted in a ratchetingup of credentialism and expenditures on formal education rather than reflecting anyRV
CHAPTER 1: THE SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION: AN INTRODUCTIONtrue societal need for more formal education or opening up opportunity to morepeopleThe role of credentialism in our society means that getting in—especially to awealthy school with plenty of need-based aid available—can make a huge differencefor low income studentsEducational institutions may help their students get access to good jobs and a higherquality intellectual life, but they are imperfect corrections for broader sources ofinequalityWhat Is a Social Institution?
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