The difference between sociology and sociological imagination




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The difference between sociology and sociological imagination

Sociology is the systematic study of relationships among persons with assumptions that behavior is impacted by occupational, political, intellectual, and social groupings and by the specific settings in which people find themselves. Sociology looks at how individuals see themselves and how much of their life’s outcomes integrate with influence of the society (Giddens & Griffiths, 2006).

The view of one’s comprehension of society and self is importance of social imagination. Social imagination is the ability to see one’s personal difficulties and private imagination as well as the structural arrangements of the society and the times of one’s life. Social imagination aid in developing an understanding and even depicts existence of community to an individual. Mills defines sociological imagination as the ability to think ourselves away from common routines of our daily lives so as reconsider them. It is the ability to view things and connect and impact on one another.

Social imagination helps one understand history and biography and their relationship within society. It also help one differentiate between social issues and personal problems.

Social issues and personal problems

The difference between issues and troubles is vital for comprehending the opportunity nature. There is a belief by sociologists that opportunities available to people and choices they make depend on the social context. Personal issues happen when there is opportunity but personal misgivings prevent achievement. A personal problem only affects the individual. It affects his lifestyle. The problem has no effect on the society. Personal problems can take many forms such as smoking, depression, obesity, unemployment, lost of a loved one, and much more. Only that individual gets affected by the condition. The society does not have a clue of the problem and could not help. Public troubles occur when the conditions (structural) for opportunity and development fail. It affects the whole society. The entire population gets affected in many ways. The problem cannot be avoided as it is out of control. Violence, poverty, human rights, justice, equality, and crime are examples of contemporary social problems that are found within the society. For example, if a man gets sacked because of a fraud case in a company, then it is personal trouble. But, if many men getfired in a company because of their origin or skin color, that is a public issue. Personal efficacy refers to one’s beliefs about his capability to meet challenging goals. It is a filter through which one evaluates his past experiences and makes decisions based on judgments. Self efficacy beliefs define the strength of one’s sense of personal confidence, and mastery one’s abilities to influence a decision. Locus of control refers to the end to which persons believe that they can control happenings that impact on their lives. People with high internal locus of control believe that happenings occur primarily as a result of one’s actions and behavior. Those with high external locus of control believe that chance, fate, or powerful others determine events. Those with high internal locus of control have greater control of their actions and tend to expose more political behaviors than those with high external locus. They are more active in looking for knowledge and information about their situation than externals do.

Film information

Trading paces is a film about a snobbish investor and a crafty street con artist who found their positions reserved as part of a bet by two unfeeling millionaires. The film was directed by John Landis. The lead actor’s name is Eddy Murphy. The film was produced on 16th June, 1963, in the United States of America (Zimmerman, 2010).

Social issue in the film

The social issue problem present in the film is the separation between upper classes and lower classes in a society. The images of Philadelphia in the movie bring a sharp contrast between the wealthy and the poor. The filmmakers use statues of a world hero to represent the rich and the statue of the famous Rocky to represent the lower class. Coleman making breakfast and chauffeuring his boss, Winthorpe, to and from job contrasts sharply with the long lines and the subway. Poor people wait while the rich get waited for. Winthorpe gets waited for by his Chauffeur, Coleman, to take him for job or bring him back home. The employees’ treatment by the Duke Brothers and Winthorpe depicts the social difference between the rich and the poor. Employees are the first to make the move of greeting employers. The employers would, in turn, return the greeting gesture or not. For instance, the Duke Brothers never responded at all. People at the same level of the society are friendlier to each other while different classes overlook each other. Mortimer high-fives his brother and gives him a slap on the ass. Moreover, Ophelia went as far as slapping her friend on the butt when they greeted each other.

The above issue is definitely a social issue and not a personal issue. Personal issues usually affect individuals and the society is unaware of it. Moreover, personal issues can easily be resolved. The above issue is social because it affects the society as a whole. The difference in social classes in a society is a common social problem. The rich treat the poor with disdain. The various means on public transports in the society are common with the poor while private means are for the rich. Poverty according to our previous definition lies in the category of social problems. This is a problem that cannot be solved easily. The society has no control over it.


In the American society, there exist various variations in material possessions, wealth, authority and power, and prestige. There are also differences in education, leisure and healthcare. A child in every ten lives below the poverty line in major industrial countries, but a child in five in the United States. These differences in outcomes and resources form the basis of inequality. The various social classes that exist in the United States are: upper class-elite, which represent leaders of institutions, leaders of multinational corporations, universities, and foundations. Those who own lands, bonds and stocks and other forms of assets are in the elite. For instance, Forbes magazine prints a list of the top 400 richest families in America. The net worth in 1997 was at least $475 million. The upper middle class is another social class in America. This represents technical and scientific knowledge- accountants, engineers, architects, lawyers, managers, university faculty, and directors of both private and public institutions. They have high income and social prestige. This is the biggest social group in the US because middle class is more than just income; it is about lifestyle and resources. The lower middle class is also another social class. This is Clerical administrative. Give support for professionals; engage in record keeping, and data collection. Paralegal such as ban tellers are also in this category. Blue-collar employees in skilled trades are found here. Working class is for restaurant workers, laborers in factories, craft workers, nursing home staff, and much more. Most or those who repair shops, garages and deliver services fall in this group. The last social group is the poor. The poor, who work, work full-time at jobs below poverty line. The poor are mostly found to offer social services.



Biography of John Landis

John Landis started his career in the mail room of the 20th Century-Fox. He dropped out of high school in 1970 and went to Yugoslavia where he went to work as a production assistant on Kelly’s Heroes. While in Europe, he also worked as an actor and stuntman in Spanish/Italian “spaghetti” westerns. After returning to US, he began his debut in 1921 as a writer-director with Schlock. He made his second film, The Kentucky Fried Movie, in collaboration with Jim Abrahams and Zucker brothers in 1977. He rose to international recognition when he directed Animal House in 1978. He has directed some of the most popular comedies of all time such as The Blues Brothers (1980), Trading Places (1983), Spies like Us (1985), Three amigos (1986), and Coming to America (1988). In 1983, he wrote and directed the groundbreaking music video of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Thriller completely changed MTV and the idea of music videos, earning him multiple accolades. In 1991, Landis collaborated again with Jackson on Black or White, which showed simultaneously in 27 nations with an estimated audience of about 500 million. Although it was not the first movie, Black or White enhanced the use of digital morphing, when an objects appears to seamlessly metamorphose into another; the program raised the standard of the state of the art special events in videos of music. He has also participated as an executive producer of Ace- and Emmy Award-winning HBO series Dream On in 1990.Tv shows produced by his company, St. Clare entertainment, include Sliders (1995), Weird Science (1994), The Lost World (1998), Campus Cops (1995), and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show (1997). In 2004, his feature-length documentary was broadcast. Deer Woman, an original one-hour episode drafted by him and his son Max Landis, championed the Masters of Horror (2005) series in the fall of 2995 on Showtime.

Landis has worked for various companies including Direct TV, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Taco Bell, Disney, and Kellogg’s as a commercial director. He became Chevalier dans I’order des et Letters in 1985, given the Federico Fellini Prize by Rimini Cinema Festival in Italy, and named a George Eastman Scholar by The Eastman House in Rochester, New York. Both the Torino Film Festival and the Edinburgh Film Festival have held career retrospectives of his films.

In 2004, he received the Time Machine Career Achievement Award at the Sitges the Film Festival in Spain. He has lectured many film universities and schools including NYU, UCSB, UCLA, USC, Yale, Texas A &M, University of Miami, Indiana University, and The North Carolina of the Arts as a film maker sent by the Academic Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences. He has also acted as an advisor and teacher to aspiring filmmakers at Utah in Sundance Institute. Moreover, he edited (Thunder’s mouth Press, NY, 2001) Best American Movies Writing 2001. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1952 and moved to Los Angeles soon after birth. He is married to Nadoolman, Deborah, an Oscar-nominated costume designer, and president of the Costume Guild whom he has two children.

Theory: social conflict theory

It is a social theory which argues that social classes and individuals within society have varying amounts of non-material and material resources (the rich vs. the poor) and that more powerful social classes use their power to exploit groups with less power and authority. Social conflict theory places transformation in place. Social conflict is the problem created from the brush between contending groups in the process of embracing social change. Significant social changes involve social conflicts. Social conflict theory depicts comprehension of importance of social conflict in trying to bring common good. It helps people arrive at a common ground, define core values, form alliances, identify different viewpoints, and come up with a plan of action to effect the desirable change. Social conflict theory dictates that no group should dominate other groups in a democratic society.

The film exposes many instances that support this theory. There are two groups of social classes in the film- the rich and the poor. The rich include the Duke Brothers and Winthorpe. The poor include Coleman, Ophelia, Chauffeur, the con, Valentine, and the prostitute. The wealthy are using their powers to influence the lives of the poor. For instance, the Duke Brothers swap the lives of a pauper with that of an upper class individual, Winthorpe, to confirm a bet. This manifest how the rich have dominion over many jobs and give them to people almost at will to satisfy their needs. The duke brothers also use Clarence Beeks to obtain insider information on the future of orange juice. It also shows how the rich use their wealth to influence the poor and control the market. However, the poor realized the plot of the rich in the movies and used it against the rich. The con and Winthorpe hit back when they realized that their lives had been reversed by the rich. The movie ends with the poor having subdued the rich in their plots. This shows a social fight between the rich and the poor in the society.

The relevance of the project

The project is very informative in that it helps one know the difference between sociology and social imagination and they apply in real life situations. The watching of a movie that has sociological touch expands one’s knowledge. One learns how to analyze a film in a sociological way and compare it with real life social theories. The project also gives one an insight into the writing of biographies, a discipline less taught. Social and personal issues in the project have a clear distinction based on the evidences depicted. This gives one the power to inform others on the difference between the two in society with various examples. Social theory enables on e understand the importance of social conflicts in trying to bring a level playground in the society.

Works cited

Zimmerman, S. (2010). Food in the movies. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland & Co.

Giddens, A., & Griffiths, S. (2006). Sociology. Cambridge, UK [u.a.: Polity Press.