Sociological Imagination Theory
The sociological imagination theory was coined by Wright Mills, in which he defined it as the awareness of the relationship between an individual’s experience and the wider society (Mills). It is, therefore, an outlook on the concept of life that tries to help a person break away from the daily monotony as it involves an individual developing a deep comprehension of their biography and how it results from the historical processes and its occurrence within a broader social context. It can, therefore, be summed as the application of imaginative thoughts to questioning and also answering the sociological questions. The understanding of the societal biography and the historical processes results in what people do, and therefore, having an understanding of what people in the society do plays a great role in learning the outcome. People do things in a society based on motives and norms and the social context, and these are known to influence both beliefs and actions of the members in a society.
Based on the concept of valuation of virginity in the 17th century, the sociological imagination theory can be used to explain the variations in the value of virginity over the centuries. In the 17th century, the Puritans and Protestants were the main inhabitants of America, and this meant that there was only one religion, Christianity, under the dominion of Protestants. As a result, the people were believers and took the work of God seriously. They believed that sex before marriage was a sin, and anyone who was involved in premarital sex was considered a whore and could even be excommunicated from society. Sinning was against God’s will, and therefore there was no chance for people to do against the will of God. Even adultery was heavily punished by bearing a permanent mark on their face, and this helped in passing a clear message that sexual sin was highly condemned and prohibited among the Puritans.
Since the sociological imagination theory deals with the comprehension of the societal norms as a result of its interaction with history, the 20th century saw a relaxation of the valuations of virginity, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, where virginity was not highly valued. The reason behind this is that immigration had begun streaming in North America, with the Irish immigrants storming into America among other communities in search of a better life. However, the incoming immigrants were not only a threat to societal believes but also affected religion to great heights. The Irish immigrants were Catholics, and this meant that despite being Christians, they differed in opinion with the Protestants, which led conflicts.
The arrival of new immigrants in Northern America resulted in the corruption of moral values, especially in the church, as the Catholic Church began officiating in a same-sex marriage, a concept that was not present in the 17th century when the land was holy and pure. The society was characterized by hippie and free love. As a result, people began engaging in a same-sex marriage, leading to a loss of value of virginity; religion never held grounds as sex before marriage was no longer perceived as a sin (Rollins). The concept of same-sex marriage is more evident in the 21st century, especially in 2012. As a result of the free love movement, the church was split into two- those that held true belief and those who didn’t value virginity. For example, the United Methodist was divided into two, a group that remained true to the traditional ways and those in support of same-sex marriage. Based on this, the value of virginity can be explained through the interaction of different communities leading to loss of culture.
Mills, C. Wright. The sociological imagination. Oxford University Press, 2000.
Rollins, Joe. Legally Straight: Sexuality, Childhood, and the Cultural Value of Marriage. Vol. 63. NYU Press, 2017.