This week during lecture we focused on C. Wright Mills’ “The Sociological Imagination,” Blumer’s “Social Problems as Collective Behavior,” and Hilgartner and Bosk’s “The Rise and Fall of Social Problems.” Based on the ideas of these readings and material covered during lecture, here are three sets of questions for you to write about:
#1. Briefly explain the main points behind C. Wright Mills’ argument for the sociological imagination? Identify a contemporary “public issue” that is of unique significance to you. Describe various aspects of the public issue and explain what makes this issue “public” rather than a “personal trouble.”
#2. In “Social Problems as Collective Behavior,” Herbert Blumer argues that social problems are products of a process of collective definition instead of existing independently as a set of objective social arrangements with an intrinsic makeup. Why is this distinction important? What do we gain by studying social problems as a process of collective behavior?
#3. In “The Rise and Fall of Social Problems,” Hilgartner and Bosk outline a “public arena model” for interpreting the relevance of social problems. Why do certain social problems “rise and fall” as the authors contend? Choose a public issue that is prevalent in contemporary media coverage. Use one of the model’s “principles of selection” (drama, cultural politics, novelty and saturation, or organizational features) to explain why you think this issue has persisted as a social problem.
Please draft a written response to either #1 or #2 or #3. Your choice.