Using your sociological imagination

If you are new to Sociology, a nice introduction to getting students to think ‘sociologically’ is by introducing the concept of the ‘sociological imagination’.

What is it?

The sociological imagination is a concept used by the American sociologist C. Wright Mills to describe the ability to “think yourself away from the familiar routines of everyday life” and look at them from an entirely new perspective. In order to develop such skills, you must be able to free yourself from one context and look at things from an alternative point of view.


An important skill for sociology students is analysis. It means breaking down an argument, OR looking at something in a different way. It achieves valuable A03 marks which is essential for success at A Level. This activity introduces this idea.

What can you get students to do?

To encourage students to think analytically, get them to choose an every day activity. The example on the handout is a cup of tea. Ask them to consider why people drink tea and to list all the possible reasons. What does it mean for the person involved, when is it drank, why is it drank, etc.

This means they can see what you mean by ‘breaking down an explanation’ and looking at something from a different angle.

Activity and resources:

Use the handout below to give students as a homework. They can also use the YouTube clip to support. On return to class, students will have LOTS to discuss.

Hope you find this useful. Feel free to share!

Kate 🙂

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