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According to C. Wright Mill, a better understanding of personal problems is achieved by relating what the individual is going through with society in general and its history. This is with the understanding that the individual is influenced by the society he lives in and its history. A solution to an individual’s problem emanate from investigating events in his past and the contribution of history in bringing the individual to his current predicament. This paper uses homelessness to illustrate how a personal problem is a social problem contributed by historical events the individual had no power over individually.
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Homelessness results from many reasons such as the inability to finance a mortgage, the inability to pay rent due to lack of income, mental illness, drug abuse, abandonment by parents in case of children or being thrown out of a home due to rejection. As of 2005, an estimated 100 million people worldwide wee homeless. Majority of them were men with figures from the western countries indicating 75-80% of homeless people were men most of whom were single. When 100 million people are homeless, it means this is a problem beyond the individual; it is a societal problem emanating from various events in the past.
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Sociological imagination therefore suggests that a problem like homelessness is not a creation of the individual alone and therefore it needs a solution from the larger society. Homelessness today could be because of 2008/09 recession that pushed people out of work leaving a number of them jobless and without a means to finance their mortgage. For others getting a job in the wake of recession proved hard and with everyone feeling the pinch of the economic downturn, they lacked somebody to support them pushing them to the streets.
The distress occasioned by the inability to earn a living pushes many of the homeless intoo despair. This desperation makes many of them not to look for work since they are less confident and their self-esteem is low. They engage in petty crimes to survive and drug abuse. According to C. Wright Mills, a personal problem like homelessness is best understood in terms of large-scale patterns that extend beyond individual experience into society and history.
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A failure in school or getting fired in job manifests a greater problem beyond the self. A failure in school could be indicative of a social problem at home, the neighborhood the student lives in, or a lack of resources. These are issues, which though beyond the individual, contribute to his performance. Depression is because of the individual struggling to find a solution to a problem that is beyond him. It therefore worsens his situation. This combined with a low self-esteem makes the individual a failure.
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