Child Labor and Sociological Imagination essay

ChildLabor and Sociological Imagination

ChildLabor and Sociological Imagination

Sociologicalimagination is a concept that was developed by C. Wright Mills. Itrefers to the study of the society and allows the understanding ofthe manner in which cultural political, historical and economicfactors affect individual choices and behaviors. According to theconcept of sociological imagination, the life or experiences of anindividual are linked to the history of the society that theindividual lives in. This paper analyses child labor as a constructof sociological imagination. In this instance, child labor will beapplied in this paper to illuminate poverty as a higher process thataffects the personal experiences of people living in third worldcountries. The paper seeks to create an understanding of the reasonwhy this problem exists as well as to point out if there is apossibility of things being different.


Childlabor is a social problem that affects the experience of children. Child labor, as the name suggests, refers to the act of employingchildren. This social problem makes it difficult for young childrento attend school. It also affects their physical, mental and socialabilities. It is important to note that child labor is not onlyharmful but is also dangerous morally. As a victim of child labor, Ihave a clear picture of its effects. I also understand what I can doas an individual to overcome the problem.

Growingup in a financially challenged family, often times I was employed asa farm laborer together with my father. In addition, my father diedof cardiac arrest a few months after the birth of my younger sister. Before his death I accompanied him to work in the firms only onweekends and holidays. As the first born, I had to take over theresponsibility of taking care of the family. My mother was also illat the time and could not work, leaving no one to take care of thefamily needs. I was fifteen years old when my father died. Nearlyeveryone in our community is undergoing the same difficult situation.As a result, the foregoing school to work in the farms was neverperceived as problem. In fact, it attracted admiration from mymembers of the society.

Workingon other people’s farms was never easy. The wages were very low. Asa result, I was prompted to work for loner hour to make enough to buyfood and other basic needs. I felt physical pains. I had no choiceand could not stop working. Besides the physical pain, I felt ashamedmost of the times I could see the children of employers going toschool. They were about my age. Some of them were older than me. Idecided that I would work as hard as I could to pay for the educationof my siblings.


Mypersonal experiences when I was growing up can largely be attributedto economic forces that affect the society at large. My experiencescan be described in the lens of individual circumstances. I had to gothrough the problems because of lack of education. To point it outclearly, I experienced child labor because my father did not haveeducation or skill set. It was not possible for him to securewell-paying jobs. For this reason, he had no option but to take lowpaying job in tea farms. It was even difficult to secure employmentin the factories due to lack of education. He had to work on multiplejob a day to sustain the family.

Theculture of poverty can lead to serious implications, especially onchildren. Culture of poverty can be described as social theory thatthat explains the cycle of poverty. Cycle of poverty is a processcharacterized by social behaviors that resuscitate poverty from onegeneration to another. For example, dependency is one of the socialbehaviors that may lead to cycle of poverty. In societies that areeconomically challenged, people tend to depend on family members whoare employed.

AccordingGordon(2008), socialimagination helps people to view the world in way that differs fromself-centered or personal perception. In this case, the society wasestablished in such a manner that I was capable of making decisionswithout thinking of how I perceive the world. I was forced to see theworld from objective events, position or the structure of thesociety. My attitude, decisions and behaviors were shaped along theselines as opposed to having a self-centered view. For example, Idecided to drop out of school and work to I pay for the education ofmy siblings. I had understood that those who owned the farms that Iworked on were educated and so were their children. I understood thatwithout education it would be impossible for my family to break outof the poverty cycle. Therefore, my understanding of the society wassignificantly influenced by social factors, context and actions thatI took.

Asmentioned earlier, child labor was not perceived as a social problemin my society. This is one of the aspects of culture of poverty. Thepoor living condition of most of the people living in my society hadprompted then to develop cultures or subcultures that were adopted tothose conditions. In fact, children perceived to be hardworking inthe farms attracted admiration from the members of the society. Childlabor was perceived a norm within the society. Education was notprioritized or given much attention.

Gordon(2008) arguesthat sociological imagination tends to explain the reason why peoplein a given society have particular experiences. On that note, Iunderwent through the experiences of being an underage employeebecause of poverty and cultures or subcultures of poverty that hadbeen developed over a long period of time. In some cases, theindividual experiences are due to personal decisions. The choicesthat people make can also influence their experiences. In my case, Ichose to drop out of school at the age of fifteen and be employed. AsI elaborated earlier, my decision was influenced by my situation. Insome cases, for instance, someone decide to start smoking due tosocial influence such as peer pressure.


Inconclusion, social imagination helps in understanding personalexperiences in the context of the larger social sphere. In thisinstance, instead of viewing the individual experiences withinpersonal sphere, one begins to look at the personal troubles withinwell informed paradigms of bigger social processes. I underwentthrough experiences of being an underage employee. However, theactions, attitude and decision were influenced by social actors andcontext.


Gordon,A. F. (2008).&nbspGhostlymatters: Haunting and the sociological imagination.University of Minnesota Press: Minnesota.