Last week I decided to have breakfast for dinner. As I cooked eggs, I began to
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Last week I decided to have breakfast for dinner. As I cooked eggs, I began to think about that statement, “breakfast for dinner.” Was I really eating breakfast for dinner? Wasn’t I really just eating eggs? Why are eggs considered breakfast? Why do many restaurants stop serving egg dishes after a certain hour? How had I gotten to the point where I associated that particular food item with a specific meal and time of day? Who taught me this idea? Using the sociological imagination can help us understand more about ordinary everyday events and decisions in our lives.
Ultimately, C. Wright Mills’ concept of the “sociological imagination” allows us to critically examine our society and our life, by considering the way social, historical, and cultural forces impact us and those around us. For example, we can consider how our society and culture have established expectations about our food choices. This first activity will ask you to engage with the sociological imagination, one of the core ways of thinking within sociology. We will then use the sociological imagination throughout the rest of the semester, as we consider the global society.
Part I – Data Collection
Make a list of the foods U.S. culture associates with breakfast, those that are considered lunch, and those that are dinner. Your list should include at least 45 entries. You can ask friends and family members to help you generate your list. Then, select another country, and research what they eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Make a list of the food items they associate with the meals. If they don’t have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, what do they do instead. You must include your lists with your paper when it is submitted on Canvas.
Part II – Reflection
After generating your lists, write a 2-4-page paper (typed, double-spaced, in Times New Roman 12-point font) in which you use the sociological imagination to examine your data (i.e. your lists). Papers that are not at least two full pages will receive a “0.” You should draw from our course material in your paper, but as with all assignments in this course, you cannot quote material from any source in your answers; use your own words. You should upload your paper to Canvas where it will be run through the Turnitin Originality Checker.
Start your paper by explaining the sociological imagination. Why is it important to consider the social forces that impact our lives? Why does this context matter? How could the sociological imagination help you in your college career? How might it help you once you begin working in your chosen field? Be specific.
Next, discuss our societal expectations regarding food. How does our society set guidelines for what we eat, and when we should eat it? In other words, how did you know which foods to put in the breakfast category, and which to place in dinner? Use specific examples. Who taught you about the foods that should be eaten for these different meals? Think beyond family and friends; what entities in society established these eating habits. What societal institutions (family, education, economy, religion, sports, etc.) impact our decisions regarding food, and how do they do so?
Finally, compare and contrast our societal ideas about breakfast, lunch, and dinner to the country you researched. Comparing and contrasting asks us to consider the similarities and differences, so make sure you discuss both. Using a global perspective, discuss how globalization and glocalization impact food options in the U.S., and how they could impact options in the country you researched. Why is it important to take a global perspective as we examine our own society? How can understanding the broader global society help you in your college career and your chosen field of study?