Journal Article — Beyond “Simply Understanding”: Sociologically Reimagining and Reconstructing the Meaning of My Education — by Kathleen R. O’Brien
In our society, where people tend to have a very linear and individualistic way of thinking, I should have graduated college years ago, be married or about to get married, live on my own, or with my boyfriend, and have a full-time career. But none of that is happening! And I sense that people often feel the need to bring that up to me. Usually it’s people I haven’t seen for a while, like distant family or old friends from high school. The reality is that I live at home with my mom and my brother, work part time while taking a full course load at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Boston and am surrounded by people who love and care for me, without many of whom I don’t think I could survive. But I can’t help feeling that a lot of people look at me like I am just doing what I am doing because I don’t want to deal with the “real world”–like a “spoiled brat” who doesn’t want to grow up. However, I have learned too much in my years in school to be satisfied with “simply understanding” (Gordon, 9). I believe that the social sciences need to be taken more seriously in academia not just as interesting subject matter, but also as a means of understanding the world in a political, economic and historical context. I agree with the critical theorists of the Frankfurt School that “people’s ideas are a product of the society in which they live” and that what “intellectuals…hould adopt is a critical attitude to the society they are examining” (Wallace and Wolf, 120). It is in the study and application of C. Wright Mills’s sociological imagination that we can realize the importance of this.
O’Brien, Kathleen R. 2008. “Beyond “Simply Understanding”: Sociologically Reimagining and Reconstructing the Meaning of My Education.” Pp. 137-146 in Sociological Imaginations from the Classroom: Plus A Symposium on the Sociology of Science Perspectives on the Malfunctions of Science and Peer Reviewing (Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge: Volume VI, Issue 2, 2008.) Belmont, MA: Okcir Press (an imprint of Ahead Publishing House).
The various editions of Sociological Imaginations from the Classroom: Plus A Symposium on the Sociology of Science Perspectives on the Malfunctions of Science and Peer Reviewing can be ordered from the Okcir Store and are also available for ordering from all major online bookstores worldwide (such as Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and others).