How are individual troubles different from public issues?
Obtain a local newspaper or visit a local newspaper’s website. You could choose the Charlotte Observer, the Gaston Gazette, The Mecklenburg Times, The Charlotte Post, etc. Browse through the paper’s pages and choose at least two articles that you will use to practice the sociological imagination. One article should focus on a personal story, while the other one should mostly discuss a social problem. Both articles can come from the same newspaper, or you can decide to use two newspapers.
To prepare for this exercise, please read C. Wright Mills article, “The Promise” and check out his book The Sociological Imagination (1959). You can also find excerpts from this book online.
Guiding questions that you should keep in mind while reading (you do not have to literally answer these questions on paper. Please just keep these questions in your mind as you are reading both articles:
1. How does he define the sociological imagination?
2. How are individual troubles different from public issues? How are they related?
3. Why is it important to pay attention to the cultural and historical context while discussing social problems? What examples of social problems does Mills offer in his book?
Time to create!
Individually, answer the following questions about the articles that you selected from a local newspaper. Your answers to all of these questions combined should be at least 500 words in length.
1. What is the title of the first article? When and where was it published? What personal story does this article tell? How does this personal experience reflect larger patterns of social organization (ex: economic division of labor, political power, class conflict, racial or ethnic relations, gender inequality, etc)?
2. What is the title of the second article? When and where was it published? What social problem does it discuss? How do you think individual people might experience this social problem in their everyday lives?
3. Why did you choose these articles?
4. Can you think of any cultural or historical characteristics of North Carolina or the U.S. society that contribute to the personal experiences and social problems described in the articles?