Social Science Imagination: Session One – Thursday 3rd October 2013

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Summary:

I have attempted to provide an overview of our first Social Science Imagination (SSI) session so that those unable to attend, or, wish to attend in the future can keep up-to-date and follow the course online. I have listed the themes covered in the session to help capture what we discussed and so that others can participate on the discussion board. Links to reading are embedded in the text and questions we agreed to think about in preparation for the next session are listed below.

I have attempted to provide as much detail as I can so that people who were, or are, unable to attend can participate online and attend when they can.

If you were unable to attend the first session you are still more than welcome to join us next week, or, in following sessions, as you are able to. SSI sessions run every Thursday between 19.00 and 21.00 at the Revival Centre on Sincil Street in Lincoln.

Themes covered:

  • What are our interests and what problems do we experience in our everyday life and see in the world around us?
  • How do we think about the world around us?
  • How do we present our perception of the world to others?
  • How can we address the problems that we face and see?

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Notes:

Thursday evening saw the start of the SSC’s Sociological Imagination course at the Revival Centre on Sincil Street in Lincoln. We had a good turn-out with seven attending on the night and another five giving apologies and due to attend next week. It was great to see some new faces and welcome back some returning scholars. The Revival Centre served as a great setting for the first session and there was a friendly, welcoming and relaxed atmosphere – and being a café – there was plenty of tea, coffee, doughnuts and biscuits.

We began the session by introducing ourselves, discussing our interests and what we wanted to get out of the course. People were honest and open and we discussed a broad range of different topics, including wanting to make a difference in the local community, learning more about social science and wanting to do something different because they hated school.

After a coffee break we started to examine how we think about the world, how we present our interpretations to others and how we can make a difference in the world. We considered the use of art as a way of thinking about the world and evoking strong emotions but, as one scholar pointed out, art can be exclusive and some people think that it is not for them. We also considered the use of social science as a way of thinking about the world and how this can help us see patterns and trends or help gain a detailed insight into the world around us and links between art and social science.

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Preparation for the next session…

For the next session and we agreed to read the first chapter of C. Wright Mills’ Sociological Imagination and think about the following questions in preparation for next week:

  • What do you think Mills means by the ‘sociological imagination’? How might you explain this idea to someone you know?
  • Why did Mills think that people felt ‘trapped’ in their lives when he was writing? What did he argue they were trapped by?
  • Did he think people could become free from these traps? If so, how?
  • What is the difference between ‘personal troubles’ and ‘public issues’, according to Mills? Why did he think it is important for people to be able to tell the difference?
  • The first chapter of Mills’ book is called ‘the promise’. He wrote that the sociological imagination promises something for us. What did he promise?

Once you understand something of what Mills is saying, try using it to think differently about something in your own life or something that you’ve noticed happening around you (for example, in your observations on the streets or in the media).

Look forward to seeing you next week.

Gary

One thought on “Social Science Imagination: Session One – Thursday 3rd October 2013

  1. Pingback: Social Science Imagination: Session 2 – 10 October | The Social Science Centre, Lincoln

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