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Back in high school, two of my favourite subjects were Society and Culture, and Ancient History. It came very naturally to me to adopt thesociological perspective– the recognition that societal expectations and social environments shape our thoughts and actions – when learning about belief systems, methods of social organisation and cultural practices from around the world and across the ages.

I was also alternately amused and irritated by the absence in most of my classmates of what C. Wright Mills dubbed “the sociological imagination” – the ability to pull back from familiar routines and everyday situations, and to view them from a fresh or critical perspective. As a young person who frequently felt like an alien who had just landed on Earth and was trying to decipher the behaviour of its inhabitants, this sociological imagination was already part of my operating system.

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