SAGE Journal Articles
Click on the following links. Please note these will open in a new window.
Abstract: Introductory sociology classes afford instructors an opportunity to expose students, often from a variety of backgrounds and majors, to the sociological imagination. In this article, I describe how the use of secrets from a popular website, PostSecret.com, can help teach students about the sociological imagination and incorporate biographical examples in explanations of broader social trends and sociological concepts. I present results from a survey of students in an introductory sociology class in order to gauge their response to the use of anonymous secrets. Results reveal that over 75 percent of students indicated that PostSecret helped them understand the sociological imagination and learn sociological concepts, 93 percent of students reported that it helped them understand course content through the use of examples, and 69 percent indicated that it helped them remember important concepts. Students also indicated that the discussion of secrets helped them recognize their own assumptions about the social world and provided them with a perspectives different from their own.
Abstract: Recently, Savage and Burrows (2007) have argued that one way to invigorate sociology's ‘empirical crisis’ is to take advantage of live, web-based digital transactional data. This paper argues that whilst sociologists do indeed need to engage with this growing digital data deluge, there are longer-term risks involved that need to be considered. More precisely, C. Wright Mills' ‘sociological imagination’ is used as the basis for the kind of sociological research that one might aim for, even within the digital era. In so doing, it is suggested that current forms of engaging with transactional social data are problematic to the sociological imagination because they tend to be ahistorical and focus mainly on ‘now casting’. The ahistorical nature of this genre of digital research, it is argued, necessarily restricts the possibility of developing a serious sociological imagination. In turn, it is concluded, there is a need to think beyond the digitized surfaces of the plastic present and to consider the impact that time and temporality, particularly within the digital arena, have on shaping our sociological imagination.