1. What is the sociological imagination and what is the two-part distinction the author makes about its function?
First of all the sociological imagination is defined by Mills, as is a state of mind that allows us to link historical experience/knowledge to what are actions are today. It is an abstract idea that brings a historical context to a situation that usually allows the individual to understand the current situation better. The two-part distinction that Mills makes about the sociological imagination is between “The personal troubles of milieu” and “the public issues of social structure”. The “troubles” mentioned have to do with someone’s personal issues. These are usually issues that take place immediately between the individual and question and another associated individual. Thus, it is within this person’s direct control to fix any issues that arise in this area. Also because the individual has the ability to address such issues, these issues also usually are of some immediate consequence to both themselves and those directly connected to them. “Issues”, on the other hand, focus on the individual’s relationship with organizations and institutions that also directly effect this person’s life. Therefore these problems are more of a concern to everyone in the community, not just one or a few individuals.
2. What was Adam Smith’s stance on business ethics and how do the authors feel about his opinion?
Smith believed that in order to have a fulfilling life that one needed more than wealth and material goods. He believed that it was only through the intangible things (such as relationships and experiences) that could really provide a man with wealth. Therefore Smith believed that businesses should abide by a code of business ethics to ensure the general well being of all people in society. Both authors agree with Smith’s assertion and feel that as a society we should be working harder to try to recognize individuals for doing the right thing, instead of only recognizing them once they’ve been caught for doing the wrong thing. Therefore the author’s believe that there are two ways that we can encourage this in the work place. The first is by giving managers the “tools” they need to manage inappropriate behavior, and the second is by recognizing people for doing the right thing (either through rewards, etc.). Overall, business ethics are integral to the success of the business. If the business acts unethically it will eventually catch up to them in a negative way.
3. How can you link the main ideas in the two readings?
While each reading contains describes different ideas, both can be related to one another. In the reading on business ethics the authors use the 2008 financial downturn and all of the unethical behavior observed by the key players involved to prove the point that there is a need for business ethics in the workforce. The Sociological Imagination reading on the other hand describes the abstract concept of the sociological imagination, which is the idea that individuals learn from the past in order to be successful in the future. In the pursuit of a better, more ethical, business world it is important to link these two ideas. Just look at what happened in 2008 because of all of those executives unethical behavior. We therefore should look at this experience as an example of what can happen if one tries to manipulate the system for their own personal gain and use it to help encourage proper ethical behavior in the future. After all shouldn’t we learn from our mistakes?