The Examples of Divorce and Unemployment in the Book “The Social Imagination”

According to C W Mills (1959), the differences between troubles and issues are the basis for sociologists to understand what affects societies. Troubles refer to individual problems while issues refer to problems in the society (Mills, 1959). A trouble would be something a few people in a country may face. It is not the norm for everyone the country. The individual problem may be sorted out by looking a a few variables in a person’s life and making a change. An issue will take more time and effort to fix. It refers to a problem that a large portion of a population face. This makes it less of a problem for the people and more of a problem for the governing body. In the book The Social Imagination, Mills uses the examples of divorce and unemployment.

In marriage, a husband and wife may fight and experience marital problems. This occurs in private and would not affect the rest of society. The couple experiences these problems in their own home. They may even get divorced which again would be attributed to their own values and beliefs. In order to fix the problem, the couple may go to counseling or may split up for a few weeks to see if they can solve their marital troubles. This becomes an issue when half of all marriages in a society end in divorce. It is no longer the problem of the husband and wife who do not agree on where to spend their money but instead it is a problem for anyone who is considering getting married.

There is a larger problem with the foundation of marriage that must be worked out in order to decrease divorce rate. Helping a few couples get marriage counseling and work through their problems will not help the issue of divorce. It must be looked at not by why this one particular couple’s marriage failed but how and why is it happening so frequently. The values of the entire culture must be looked at because something changed in order to cause the issue.

The same holds true for unemployment. If one person in a society is unemployed than we must look at why that person is unable to find a job. The problem is not that there are not job opportunities, but instead the trouble lies within “the character of the individual, his skills and his immediate opportunities” (Mills, 1959, ch. 1). However, if half the population is unemployed, then the issue does not lie within the individual but instead within the job market. One reason could be a lack of opportunity, therefore regardless of an individual’s character or skills, they will struggle to gain employment. According to Mills (1959),in the case of unemployment being an issue, the economics of a society would be a major influence and therefore should be considered.

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