The Importance of Sociological Imagination and Global Sociological Imagination
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The Importance of Sociological Imagination and Global Sociological Imagination
Nowadays men and women often feel that their private lives are a series of traps. They sense that within their everyday worlds, they cannot overcome their troubles, and in this feeling, they are often quite correct: What ordinary men are directly aware of and what they try to do are bounded by the private orbits in which they live; their visions and their powers are limited to the close-up scenes of job, family, neighborhood; in other surroundings, they move vicariously and remain spectators. And the more aware they become, however vaguely, of ambitions and of threats which transcend their immediate locales, the more trapped they seem to feel.
Man in an attempt to make meaning out of this vague imagination of the essence of his existence, continues his quest to find an ideology where he can align himself as the ideologies being parallel to what are his life’s views and philosophies that he adhere.
Sociological imagination is a sociological term coined by American sociologist in 1959.It suggests that people look at their own personal problems as social issues and, in general, tries to connect their own individual experiences with the workings of society.
Women throughout history, was always viewed as a sub gender to man. But in the advent of the new century, where radical and progressive thinking flowed freely in discussions, women finally take courage to unveil their importance to the history of mankind. It may not be a collective consciousness from all women, but the need for women to be recognized as an important part of the society seems already too ripe.
Women are treated differently in many parts of the world then. Some women can handle important jobs in the society in other cultures, while in some cultures, women take the back seat and let their male counterpart run the show.
The Feminist Imagination (empowering women)
The history of feminism reaches far back before the 18th century but it is said that the seeds of the feminist movement were planted during the latter portion of that century. The earliest works on the so-called "woman question" criticized the restrictive role of women, without necessarily claiming that women were disadvantaged or that men were to blame.
Feminist thought began during “The Enlightenment” with such thinkers as and the championing women's education and many liberals, such as , demanding equal rights for women in every sense. The first scientific society for women was founded in Middleberg, a city in the south of the Dutch republic in 1785. Journals for women which focused on issues like science became popular during this period as well.
The feminist movement is generally said to have begun in the 18th century as people increasingly came to believe that women were treated unfairly under the law. The feminist movement is rooted in the West and especially in the reform movement of the 19th century. The organized movement is dated from the first women's rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848.
was one of the founders of the suffragette movement and aimed to reveal the institutional sexism in British society, forming the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU).
The Feminist movement spread from the West to the East. And in the Arab world saw Egyptian jurist , the author of the 1899 pioneering book Women's Liberation (Tahrir al-Mar'a), as the father of Arab Feminist Movement. It is surprisingly odd for Amin to take the stand for women liberation, not only that he is a man, but because Arab is noted to be a patriarchal society. In his work Amin criticized some of the practices prevalent in his society at the time, such as polygamy, the veil, or women's segregation, and condemned them as un-Islamic, and contradicting the true spirit of Islam. His work had an enormous influence on women's political movements throughout the Islamic and Arab world.
Many countries began to grant women the right of suffrage, or to vote in the early years of the 20th century, especially in the final years of the First World War and the first years after the war. The reasons for this varied, but included a desire to recognize the contributions of women during the war, and were also influenced by rhetoric used by both sides at the time to justify their war efforts. For example, since Wilson's Fourteen Points recognized self determination as a vital component of society, the hypocrisy of denying half the population of modern nations the vote became difficult for men to ignore.
The 1920s were an important time for women, who, in addition to gaining the vote also gained legal recognition in many countries. However, in many countries, women lost the jobs they had gained during the war. In fact, women who had held jobs prior to the war were sometimes compelled to give up their jobs to returning soldiers, partly due to a conservative backlash, and partially through societal pressure to reward the soldiers. Many women continued to work in blue collar jobs, on farms, and traditionally female occupations. Women did make strides in some fields such as nursing.
The rise of socialism and communism advanced the rights of women to economic parity with men in some countries. Women were often encouraged to take their place as equals in these societies, although they rarely enjoyed the same level of political power as men, and still often faced very different social expectations.
In some areas, regimes actively discouraged feminism and women's liberations. In Nazi Germany, a very hierarchical society was idealized where women maintained a position largely subordinate to men. Women's activism was very difficult there, and in other societies that deliberately set out to restrict women's, and men's, gender roles, such as Italy, and much later Afghanistan.
Early feminists and primary feminist movements are often called the first wave and feminists after about 1960 the second wave. Second wave feminists were concerned with gaining full social and economic equality, having already gained almost full legal equality in many western nations. One of the main fields of interest to these women was in gaining the right to contraception and birth control, which were almost universally restricted until the 1960s. With the development of the birth control pill feminists hoped to make it as available as possible. Many hoped that this would free women from the perceived burden of mothering children they did not want; they felt that control of reproduction was necessary for full economic independence from men. Access to abortion was also widely demanded, but this was much more difficult to secure because of the deep societal divisions that existed over the issue. To this day, abortion remains controversial in many parts of the world.
Many feminists also fought to change perceptions of female sexual behavior. Since it was often considered more acceptable for men to have multiple sexual partners, many feminists encouraged women into "sexual liberation" and having sex for pleasure with multiple partners. The extent to which most women in fact changed their behavior, first of all because many women had already slept with multiple partners, and secondly because most women still remained in mainly monogamous relationships, is debatable. However, it seems clear that women becoming sexually active since the 1980s are relatively more sexually active than previous generations. This period of the 80’s is often termed as sexual revolution.
These developments in sexual behavior have not gone without criticism by some feminists. They see the sexual revolution primarily as a tool used by men to gain easy access to sex without the obligations entailed by marriage and traditional social norms. They see the relaxation of social attitudes towards sex in general, and the increased availability of pornography without stigma, as leading towards greater sexual objectification of women by men. and gained notoriety in the 1980s by attempting to classify pornography as a violation of women's civil rights. Other countries out rightly banned pornography, not only as a lewd behavior but also as a violation of women’s rigts, being considered as sexual objects rather than beings.
In many areas of the world women are still paid less than men for equivalent work, hold much less political and economic power, and are often the subject of intense social pressure to conform to relatively traditional gender expectations. Feminists continue to fight these conditions. The most high profile work is done in the field of pay-equity, reproductive rights, and encouraging women to become engaged in politics, both as candidates and as voters. In some areas feminists also fight for legislation guaranteeing equitable divorce laws and protections against rape and sexual harassment. Radical feminism was a significant development in second wave feminism, viewing women's oppression as a fundamental element in human society and seeks to challenge that standard by broadly inverting perceived gender roles along with promoting lesbian and gay rights.
In the Arab and Islamic world, feminist movements face very different challenges. In Morocco and Iran, for example, it is the application of Islamic personal status laws that are the target of feminist activity. According to Islamic law, for example, a woman who remarries may lose custody over her children; divorce is an unqualified male privilege; in certain countries polygamy is still legal. While not attacking Islamic law itself, these women and men in different Islamic countries offer modern, feminist, egalitarian readings of religious texts. In Egypt feminist gynecologist centers her critique on the still prevalent custom of female genital mutilation. Feminist groups in other African countries have targeted the practice as well. Famous personalities like , one of the leading ramp models in the world helped in bringing awareness to the world about such painful cultural rites done to women.
One problem feminists have encountered in the late 20th century is a strong backlash against perceived zealotry on their part. Psychologists and other authorities in the field of human study argued that women and men could never be totally equal, as many non-feminists believe that feminists are adhering to absolute equality of gender. This backlash may be due to the visibility of some radical feminist activism that has been inaccurately perceived as representing the feminist movement as a whole. Many women, and some men, have become reluctant to be identified as feminists for this reason. Outside of the West, feminism is often associated with Western colonialism and Western cultural influence, and is therefore often delegitimized. Asian cultures, though women are given significant roles in the society seem to follow a cultural tend that there really is a gender related roles which is exclusive to women and to men. And sexual liberation or revolution did not make a big impact right away. Sexual liberation is most oftenly even viewed as Hollywood, where Western cultures invade other cultures quite successfully. Feminist groups therefore often prefer to refer to themselves as "women's organizations" and refrain from labeling themselves feminists.
Social imaginations do not just develop right away. It is like a product of collective experiences of al human beings and then, out of the zeitgeist of the era, it triggers the birth of the long conceived imagination.
Most women now days enjoy far better privileges than women from all other previous generation and centuries. Feminist movement or feminist imagination is primarily the catalyst of this change, they unveiled many social and personal struggles of women to the society which is only acting blind, because of cultural norms or indifference since it has always been like that since the beginning.
Social imagination, like feminism started probably as an individual battle to gain recognition as a woman who is a big part of the society. Though many women might have felt the same way, it never started as all women shouting for gender equality. It started as a minority voice that in the process gained recognition by opening more eyes to the real flight of the women in the latter part of the century and in the past century. Once other women learned that there really is a hope for gender equality other than being treated as domestic servants of the family, the imagination spread like wildfire. It never took long since the world was captured by the movement because after all it was already all in the imagination of all women, the need for gender equality and recognition and gaining of rights. Feminism now a day is recognized as an ideology all over the civilized world. It has become a global ideological imagination, which leads in the gender revolution. Without these sociological imagination of empowering women, I wonder if many women today are enjoying and living like they are today.
And from the words of , one who pioneered the importance of social imagination, “what we experience in various and specific milieux, I have noted, is often caused by structural changes. Accordingly, to understand the changes of many personal milieux we are required to look beyond them. And the number and variety of such structural changes increase as the institutions within which we live become more embracing and more intricately connected with one another. To be aware of the idea of social structure and to use it with sensibility is to be capable of tracing such linkages among a great variety of milieux. To be able to do that is to possess the sociological imagination”.
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