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Trap - Essay Example

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Today's individuals are still subject to the trap that Mill described over 40 years ago. Individuals feel they are trapped (as indeed they are) because "their visions and their powers are limited to the close-up scenes of job, family, neighborhood." They live in a hurried culture, where "…
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Today's individuals are still to the trap that Mill described over 40 years ago. Individuals feel they are trapped (as indeed they are) because "their visions and their powers are limited to the close-up scenes of job, family, neighborhood." They live in a hurried culture, where "...the more aware they become, however vaguely, of ambitions and of threats which transcend their immediate locales, the more trapped they seem to feel," and where where the connection of the course of one's life with that of the world's history cannot be grasped, and where "personal experience is politically useless, and our political will a minor illusion." It is where private troubles do not seem to be any concern of the public, where the large and grand concerns of society as a whole, including government, is oftentimes seemingly irrelevant to everyday life.
Today's "consumer society" has further strengthened this trap. Since the industrial age, social bonds that were previously an essential part of everyday life have become only secondary concerns amidst the new forms of collective behavior espoused by large commercial institutions, where individuality is no longer valued. Individuals are now replaceable cogs in a wheel, not an essential part of anything deemed "important" in the grand scheme of things.
It is true what Mills says: an increasing awareness of events in the wide world leads to an increasing awareness of one's powerlessness, with the seeming irrelevance of everyday life amidst the workings of contemporary society, "with its alienating methods of production, its enveloping techniques of political domination," so that individuals are not able to fully understand the greater sociological patterns related to their private troubles.
Examples are everywhere. One is the women of today; feminism and related movements, while ensuring that women are no longer relegated to being "domestic goddesses," also throw them into ambivalence about their roles in the family. The value of the home is compromised, and the values of modern society are sometimes at odds with the traditional expectations of women as homemakers.
There is now, as has long been the case, a huge gap between the top and the bottom rungs of society. The ever-unflagging rate of suicides, the prevalence of drug abuse, of homeless persons, of the depressed, of those on the brink of suicide, all point to this perceived lack of connection between the public and private sphere.
Modern work trends do not make for adequate social ties and fulfillment. Alienation is furthered by current trends of customer priority, where customer service involves commercialized and systematized pleasantness and warmth toward total strangers. In this time of prevalent corporate-mindedness, people are unsatisfied and insecure.
It is true, however, that "neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both." Mill's idea of sociological imagination should enable us to understand these forces that influence our lives, and to see how individual concerns in work, family, neighborhood, etc. are actually connected to more general social realities. Read More
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