The sociological imagination is defined as the ability to connect personal troubles with broader social trends, a concept developed by sociologist C. Wright Mills.
C. Wright Mills was a prominent sociologist, noted for his lasting impacts on the field of sociology, despite his short life span (1916 to 1962). To this day, we still read his book, The Sociological Imagination, written in 1959.
C. Wright Mills felt it was critical and imperative for the sociologist to explore the connections between an individual's personal biography and larger social forces and historical trends.
If you were one of these people, you’d likely feel disgruntled when you lost your job. You might feel like it was your fault. But in this case, it really wasn't. Your personal trouble stemmed from the globalization of the economy, something over which you had no control. It didn't mean that you were a bad person or incapable; it’s simply that these broader social forces and historical trends were moving in a certain direction which caused you to lose your job.
How would someone with a sociological imagination view this situation? If you have a sociological imagination, you are able to connect the broader social issue--that it's much cheaper for these jobs to be produced overseas--with the personal issue, the loss of jobs.
Source: This work is adapted from Sophia author Zach Lamb.