Sociology Chapter 2 Reading Notes 1/22/09 Modern sociologists are inspired by 2 qualities stressed by early ones- the focus on the social and skepticism. People in modern western societies have been taught to embrace the principle of individualism. Individualism is the idea that in life people pursue their own ends and follow their own ideas. C. Wright Mills came up with the concept of the sociological imagination. The key quality of it is the ability to look beyond personal troubles of individuals and see public issues of social structure. Mills says that people misunderstand their own circumstances because they have an individualistic bias. It leads people to think that their own situations are a result of their own behavior. They don’t notice that there are bigger things that shape their behaviors. Social integration is how much people have ties to their social groups. Many times racism is built into social systems. Because of this institutional racism people may exhibit racist behavior sometimes without even being aware of it or able to resist it. Merton said that really understanding social things involves identifying both their manifest (intended and obvious) and latent (unintended and hidden) consequences. The consequences are called functions. Latent consequences aren’t always bad or dysfunctional.