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Sociological Imagination: The Society, Mind & Human Action

The study of sociology subsumes us into miscellaneous areas of the society, and the relevance of the society on man. Sociology has given man the opportunity to breed what is called the ‘sociological imagination.’ And it is from this prospect that various sociological perspectives have surfaced through different scholars and sociologists, respectively. The sociological standpoint that will be scrutinized in this article is however of the link in the order of dominance between the society, the mind, and man’s actions.

One of the most flexible things so easy to be exploited, as scrutinized by psychologists, philosophers, and sociologists is the mind of a man (no gender is implied). With regards to psychology, one can allude to a conclusion that the mind affects the output of the brain (thought processes)—which in turn affects the output of the body.

With regards to philosophy, one can allude to a conclusion that the flexibility or complexity of a man’s mind will influence his general understanding of beliefs, or chiefly of the cosmos. And with regards to sociology, one can point out the underlying motif that the mind of a man reacts to the external infusion of its society, thus, it is ephemeral when it comes to independence.

Having looked at each of these perspectives, one can then draw a line of tangibility of the relationship between a man’s mind and how it is greatly influenced by his society.

The Society

One of the fundamental insights of sociology is the motif that the human behavior is shaped by their social interaction, and the groups to which the people belong. It is noteworthy to know that one is a reflection of his/her society. Thus, what you are and how you behave is mostly influenced or, sometimes, determined by where you are.

Furthermore, the leverage the society has in influencing the behavioral pattern of people doesn’t just materialize. It deflects its lambent grasp with the mind. Intuitively, one can conclude that when the mind is made up, an action or a personality is made up too. This, in plain fact, is the societal leverage on the mind.

The Mind

The human’s mind has been one of the most valuable ideational aspect of a man. It holds the power of dissimilar functions—oxymoronic. It is either it makes a man, or breaks a man.

Various hypotheses have shown the fact that many people who make mistakes they normally don’t at the front of a crowd, or who do things they are talented at erroneously at a particular point in time, or other similar situations, didn’t lose a physical battle with composure. They had first lost a battle in their heads. It’s the manifestation of this defeat that becomes an exhibition of the reality.

The Society, The Mind, and Human Action

To concrete the motif of the relationship between the mind and the society, and how it influences or determines the behavioral pattern of a man, the crux of Sapir-Whorf hypothesis with recourse to Linguistic Determinism and Linguistic Relativity might be the best to describe in relation with.

According to George Yule, “the structure of our language, with its predetermined categories, must have an influence on how we perceive the world,” and that is Linguistic relativity. Linguistic Determinism, however, is a stronger version “which holds that language determines thoughts.” Although this analogy is with relations to language, it can be rightly proposed too that as language influences or determines thoughts, the mind influences or determines actions. Thus, a man’s action is a reflection of his mind. The conclusion, therefore, draws a diagram between three things: man’s society, mind, and his actions.

Sociological Imagination in Nigeria

One can, in fact, make a reference to Obi Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s No Longer at Ease. Obi’s character is a perfect exhibition for this theory of society, mind and human’s action. As a secretary, Obi didn’t allow himself fall to being a prey of bribery, or the exploitation of the opposite gender who sought his help.

His society, in the later part, then shoved him into a tight situation by making him face what is the opposite of ease, to free himself of all his doctrines. The society influenced his mind into believing that the only way to help himself from his desperation was to go against his own norms. Once Obi made up his mind, his mind took over his actions.

In furtherance, a look into the divine history of Adam and Eve should reflect the motif of the leverage of the society on the mind, and of the mind on actions. As presented in history, Adam’s society influenced him—or, so to say, his mind—to eat an apple with a given motive of power, or freedom. The conviction of his mind with the infusion of the ideas of his society is what led to his actions of eating the apple. This concretes the methodological process of the given elements: from the society to the mind, then to the actions.

Final Thoughts on the Sociological Imagination and Society, Mind, and Action

In closing, the sociological imagination of the influential power of the society on the mind, and the mind on action is a proof to the motif of how humans act. Man’s actions can be predictable if one has the ability to know which way the society has influenced him.

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Saheed Sunday

Saheed Sunday, NGP V, the author of Rewrite The Stars, is a Nigerian writer and a Hilltop Creative Arts Foundation member. He was the 1st runner-up for the Nigerian Prize for Teen Authors, 2021. He has been published or forthcoming in journals and magazines including Shrapnel magazine, Rough Cut Press, Temz Review and others.