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Marlene works at a fast food restaurant in Boston, USA. She works long hours at the restaurant and commutes forty-five minutes each way to her home outside of the downtown core. She has two school age children who attend a public school near their home. Marlene’s youngest child has recently been diagnosed as medically obese by the school nurse. Marlene would like to seek medical advice from a doctor but she does not have health insurance and there are no public clinics open when she has time off from work.

Discussion Question: How can we apply a sociological imagination/perspective to help us understand why Marlene’s youngest child may be obese? In answering this question, try to think about how C. Wright Mills envisions the difference between ‘personal troubles’ and ‘public/social problems’.

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Marlene’s personal troubles, as indicated by Wright Mills, show a woman, presumably a single mother, struggling financially in a low-wage job, a long commute, and a young child with chronic health issues. Without more information, we have to guess some details, but perhaps with Marlene’s long commute, she lacks the time to prepare fresh...
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