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Sociological Imagination Paper
The concept of sociological imagination is very complex. Roughly speaking, it is a mode of envisaging any local situation within a more global context. Sociological imagination is a way of looking for the stimuli that affect an individuals life. Finding themselves in a particular historical context, in the center of a peculiar social order and surrounded by a certain type of social roles, personalities may define the sources of their success or failure. In order to analyze any singular situation one should pay attention to the key actors social roles and importance, assess the influence of the current political and economic situation, the form of government in a given country, and single out some crucial traits of the prevalent social system. In order to broaden the conventional conflict perception, sociological imagination will be applied to the situation happened to my close friend Roy.
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As a college student, Roy tried to gain more independence by working as a cashier in a huge retail store. On the second month of his work he noticed that a one hundred note was lacking. As Roy didnt leave his cash desk that day, he was sure that the money wasnt stolen by any of the employees. It was improbable that hed mistaken with such an amount of money, although it was possible that the two bills stuck together and by accident he gave two hundred instead of one. In any case, for the time Roy had no money to make up the deficiency. The retail store manager accused Roy of theft and the next day my friend was fired. The manager didnt believe a word of Roys. What is more, he advised Roy not to complain in order to avoid litigation. A week later another cashier faced the similar problem, with fifty dollars in his case. It occurred that the stolen money had fallen in a little gap in the cash register.
A usual explanation would be that Roy was not attentive enough, because he had not noticed the lack before the end of the shift. Likewise, my friend was not persuasive enough when it came to explaining himself. On the other hand, the managers attitude was unjust, because he did not want to get into detail and to handle the incident properly. As a Roys friend, I blamed his manager and more precisely, his bosss lack of professionalism. It was the superiors job to resolve conflicts and to look for resolutions of the problem. Meanwhile, the only action done was shifting the whole of responsibility on Roy.
Let us now take a closer look on the situation using sociological thinking. The conflict arose between the subordinate and the manager. In US corporative culture the degree of personal attachment between the superior and subordinates reflects the professional ethics of a manager. A good manager should show no favoritism, as well as be fair and just with everybody. A manager should distant himself from the subordinates and to be able to make unpopular decisions.
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Although this rule proves rather effective, it is the lack of more close relationships that could call forth the total absence of sympathy on the part of Roys boss.
Trust evolves gradually over time, and the bosss behavior conditions a subordinates trust, that, in its turn, influences a subordinates behavior. Finally, a subordinates behavior will affect the bosss attitude and form another ground for confidence or mistrust.
In Roys case we have a part-time employment which infers the possibility of turnover. Roy had been working for the company for a month. That is why the manager had no time to test his subordinates reliability and honesty. Being mere co-workers, they knew little of each other. That is why the boss couldnt stake his career on a person he barely knew.
Besides, the actors could be seen as a student and an employer. In the US, 70% of employers think that the education of their employees should be maintained by schools and students themselves Consequently, it is much easier to fire a bad performer than to take care of his/her professional development.
Being a cashier, an employee is rather easy to replace. The post requires little skill. To tell the truth, firing a cashier can do less damage to a company than doing so to an engineer. Unskilled work and plenty of manpower made Roy less valuable for a company.
Finally, I may consider the actors as the employer and the employee. The US unemployment rate in July 2012 was much higher than in 2014. It consisted 8.3 percentage points which is equal to 121.3 million people.
The manager had no fear of losing an employee because of the high unemployment rate. Besides, during the summer vacations there are always international students looking for a job and ready to be less-paid. The competition is high enough, that is why the boss would not spend his time listening to the excuses.
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Another dimension I would like to touch is the current political and economic situation in 2012.
There was some criticism of the Governments inertness regarding the economy. After the 2011 crisis the economy needed a great boost, and the US citizens expected the President and the Government to take action and to offer new solutions. The first term of Obamas presidency was coming to an end, and the public was disposed to critically evaluate it. The unwillingness to reconsider the budget expenditures led to Texas petition. The petition showed that the country was in need for changes.
Although it is rather difficult to trace the influence of current political issues on the particular case, it is evident that there existed certain dissatisfaction. It can be hypothesized that gaining lower income the retail stores could reduce the number of job positions available.
The economic sluggishness could also create tension within the company management. Going down step by step, a negative emotion could easily reach Roys manager. Reflecting on the important economic issues, the superior could estimate that the shortfall was of secondary importance. Evidently, the boss preferred to invest his time and energy in the problems of significance.
The major historical event of that summer was represented by the Summer Olympics, where the US ranked first. The strategic rivalry with Russia gave rise to general excitement. The spirit of consolidation was in the air, and many of Americans spent time together watching the competition and cheering for their team.
A patriot and a sports fan, Roys manager probably hurried up to get to a sports bar with his friends and to check the score. Digging in Roys case was too tiresome and too time-consuming. Besides, while uniting friends and neighbors, watching sports affected the professional relationships only in the area of polite talk. Discussing the results has nothing to do with experiencing the moments of triumph together. It is less affective and less emotional. That is why, it seems quite logical any person would prefer to spend time with his/her close friends rather than bother about an employee trying to whitewash his deed.
It is also commendable to take into account the US form of government. Democracy is one of the key-values in this country. The principle of equality and freedom of choice is the basement of the American culture.
Seeing Roy as an average US citizen, his boss would not think of making exceptions or giving chances. A theft is not only stealing from the business owner, it is also stealing from the fellow-Americans. Stealing money is cheating the other co-workers who could not think of acting so, even if they were in need. It is also an act of claiming for an exceptional status. Thus stealing can be seen as denigration of other citizens. From this perspective the dismissal appears to be rather mild punishment. Realizing that Roy is a student, and not wishing to give him a negative reference, the manager showed magnanimity. This is how I arrive at the point that Roys boss is actually a high-hearted person, and owing to him Roy has not dishonored his reputation.
I would distinguish such main traits of the US social system as individualism, initiative and a strong sense of responsibility.
Henceforth, the employee who lacks a one hundred note is thoroughly responsible for the deficit. A good cashier should be careful while dealing cash, because it is one of the essential practices required for the post. Roy failed to perform his professional duties, despite the fact that it was a fortuity. My friend was unlucky, but in the societys eyes he was guilty of the deficiency.
To conclude, I would like to confess that sociological thinking opens up the perspective and allows evading box thinking. Looking for reasons sometimes gives unexpected results. Roys boss seems no longer a negative character of the story, and Roy himself stops being a victim. Even though incomplete, the analysis provided shows to what extent a person is restricted in judging and labelling the others. The practice of sociological thinking could be further developed and popularized in order to raise the public literacy.