C. Wright Mills famous quote, “Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both” explains the sociological imagination which connects individuals to society and history. All of this means that we cannot understand the life of a single individual without a deeper understanding of the history of their society. Mills knows that this is true because by looking at the troubles that individuals in the world have and issues that society is facing, connections can be made between people and the history of a society that could not have been made before. A perfect example of how an individual trouble can be looked at as a societal issue is the opioid epidemic in Oceania. We cannot answer the questions “why are there drugs in Oceania”, “how has Oceania changed socially” or even “how did the name Oceania change to Oxyana” without understanding the history of both the individuals and the society of the town. When looking at an individual that has a drug addiction we are most likely to think it is their fault they started using drugs in the first place, we hardly ever look at their society to see if there is a bigger drug problem. By using Mills quote we can see how there is a larger societal drug issue in the town of Oceania where there have been 64,000 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2016. When people look at both the history of the individuals and society of Oceania they can see that the problem is no longer about individuals, but the entire population.
When we use Mill’s famous quote and the sociological imagination we can finally answer the questions why there are drugs in Oceania and how the town has changed socially. Instead of looking at the opioid addiction as an individual issue our responses to this epidemic change because we now see that they really is an issue with drugs in Oceania and that they are reasons behind why so many people are using drugs. Is it because pharmacists hand out prescription drugs too easily, or because the drugs are cheap and too accessible on the streets? Mills also states, “The sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society. That is its task and its promise”(Mills 1). Using the sociological imagination for the opioid epidemic helps us get a better understanding of why there is a drug issue in Oceania. We would not be asking these questions without looking at the epidemic as both an individual and society issue because we would assume it is the individual’s fault, when in fact the history of Oceania adds to the opioid addiction issue. When we finally understand the history of both the individuals and society of Oceania we can start asking the real questions of why there are so many people using drugs instead of focusing on the individual’s problems.