In order to understand society, it is necessary not only to perform the mechanical application of scientific methods but also to show the specific quality of the researcher’s mind. Sociological imagination is a tool that allows a researcher to understand people’s social structures and behavior. This is the ability to look at familiar things in a new way, to see the relationship between phenomena and the trend behind them. This manifests itself in the ability to link any event in society with structural, cultural, and historical contexts, as well as individual and collective actions of members of society. Therefore, this approach is essential for considering the problem of Hispanic students’ academic performance in college in the conditions of the American education system. Sociological imagination helps correlate various socio-economic factors and explain their interrelation with each other, which has a direct impact on Hispanic students.
The concept of society correlates not with the totality of individuals but with organized forms of interaction between people, which are supported by a social system striving for a stable balance. Accordingly, social actions should be considered as institutional patterns supporting a systemic whole (Ormerod, 2019). Normative factors that are analytically independent of personal motives, economic interests in the usual sense, and political power interests are crucial in human action, which is the central thesis of Parsons’ sociology. Usually, a person, a “personality”, is understood as some unique individuality, hidden from external control and incomprehensible to outsiders and oneself (Ormerod, 2019). Parsons considers “personality” as a systemic phenomenon, separate from the individual, and thereby overcomes the ambiguities associated with the ideological confrontation of the subjective and objective worlds (Ormerod, 2019). “Personality” becomes a specific description language, separate from the language of the social system, culture, and behavior.
Considering this problem through the prism of this approach, it is essential to pay attention to how Hispanic students perceive the essence of learning. In essence, the use of structural functionalism obliges the researcher to approach the issues from an independent side, not paying attention to minor labels and patterns. Thus, it is necessary to understand how the problem of college students is connected to the American education system (Crisp et al., 2015). The importance of this problem is determined by the fact that Latin American society is quite fast-growing, 24% of children under 5 years old were of Latin American origin, and 34% were under 18 years old (Hill & Torres, 2010). One of the fundamental problems is the perception of the relationship in the family between the student and the parents.
Modern education is aimed at actively involving parents in the process of supporting the educational process from primary school. Consequently, when students go to college, they face a state developed over the years when they are under double pressure. In this case, an explanation is necessary since there are only positive motives behind the situation. However, parents may not be sufficiently likely to accept these initiatives and invade students’ personal space too much (Hill & Torres, 2010). That is why Hispanic students face the problem of not fully realizing their academic potential. Moreover, this is due to the fact that the financial condition of Latin American families is often not high enough.
Consequently, students face a significant dilemma before entering college, which may limit their potential. In addition, the modern education system is quite demanding, so students need to constantly study, write a large number of academic papers and improve their knowledge (Hill & Torres, 2010). For families with limited financial opportunities, this factor becomes the cause of an onerous condition. Students have to work hard in order to support their family and be a direct participant in it since it is the reason for adulthood and corresponding responsibility (Crisp et al., 2015). However, in reality, such problems are relatively widespread; therefore, their solution should not lie only at the heart of implementing support programs for Hispanic students. Based on the foundations of structural functionalism, it is necessary to determine the root of the problem directly, which can be caused by political arrangements and various social foundations.
Human behavior largely determines the structure of personality and social roles. A significant merit of George Mead is that he developed a role theory of personality, in accordance with which the essence of personality, all facets of its wealth and originality, are manifested primarily through the social roles it performs. The individual’s social activity acts as a set of its social roles, which are fixed in the system of linguistics and other symbols (Charmaz et al. 2019). Moreover, people interacting with each other are guided by the symbolic meanings with which they endow particular objects. It is essential to consider social interaction as an exchange of social symbols between people and as an interpretation of these symbols. Representatives of this approach believe that the study of direct interactions of individuals makes it possible to explain all social processes taking place in society (Charmaz et al. 2019). Hence, an extensive range of actions, reactions, and personal manifestations can carry a semantic load and inform communication partner about condition, attitude, and mood.
Symbolic interactionism reflects the position of how interaction can have a significant impact on the perception of individuals in society. It is imperative to take into account the question of how Hispanic students themselves face a misunderstanding or an uncomfortable situation in college. All this has a close relationship when a specific stereotypical picture is created in society, which does not allow for the development and self-realization of a person (Stebleton & Jehangir, 2019). Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention to how the interaction between all students is built in the conditions of the educational process. Hispanic students may be limited in their ability to integrate into active student activities as they are affected by various external factors (Crisp et al., 2015). Consequently, other people have a particular idea that does not make it possible to create close personal ties. Representatives of the socio-psychological direction in American sociology at the beginning of the XX century insisted on the need for a priority study of the subjective side of social action. The impressions that people make on each other form the basis of social phenomena, thereby constructing the fundamental facts of the existence of society.
Society is presented as an ever-changing and transforming system, which is also expressed in the relationship between social groups and classes in a state of conflict. Social conflicts are inevitable and, most importantly, necessary because due to them, new ways of human society development are possible (Hayes, 2022). If there is no obvious or latent conflict in society, then it is considered abnormal and unpromising because only conflicts and contradictions can give impetus to further development. It is worth noting that it is almost impossible to influence such conflicts, and mainly there is no sense or expediency in this (Hayes, 2022). This is due to the fact that conflicts are formed naturally, through evolution, and lie deep in the attitudes of the development of society. Consequently, a person will not be able to change the course of events and alone will not be able to eliminate or completely exhaust the conflict.
Considering the problem of Hispanic students’ academic performance, paying attention to the theory of conflict is necessary. In this case, it is necessary to examine the aspect of how the interaction of the American government and Latin American society can lead to the emergence of various laws that improve the situation of students. The main factor is that there is a definite need for the development of additional institutions to maintain the academic performance of the entire population (Hill & Torres, 2010). This is reflected in the fact that students who belong to the category “poor and working class” make up 50.3% (Stebleton & Jehangir, 2019). This requires the development of programs that will be aimed at meeting the needs of Hispanic students. In this case, problems that are directly related to historical and cultural differences come to the fore. To a certain extent, it cannot be limited to the fact that the academic performance of a particular ethnic group is lower. There are always various reasons for such phenomena that need to be solved. In this case, the satisfaction of the cultural interests of students is the primary task.
The main problem with the education of Latinos was their inability to move from high school to college. This solution could open access to higher education for the majority of Latinos. Moreover, paying for school meals and attracting Spanish-speaking specialists to education would improve the quality of training of future applicants. In their opinion, the primary task was to preserve the funding of targeted bilingual programs. Consequently, a similar approach should be maintained in college, where it is necessary to provide more opportunities, and the university should consider each student’s socioeconomic situation (Stebleton & Jehangir, 2019). This is necessary in order to create a favorable atmosphere that takes into account the characteristics of each student. Such an approach can significantly improve academic performance and the quality of education. These issues certainly arise and become an agenda due to the development of a particular conflict situation (Crisp et al., 2015). Thus, the contradictions that arise and the desire to find a way out motivate the creation of radically new and innovative approaches. This is reflected in the desire to provide Hispanic students with expanded opportunities to improve their lives.
Through historical and anthropological sensitivity, the researcher can avoid the one-sidedness of thinking and discover that other societies have existed and exist with their organization of life, institutions, and ideas. This makes it possible to critically evaluate society and consider alternative ways of social life and thinking, organizations, and institutions. Thus, sociological imagination means the ability of researchers to distract from their everyday experiences, see concrete people with their interests and values behind abstract concepts, and grasp the meaning of the functioning of a society in its historical development. It is the ability to understand ways of life and organizations other than those in which researchers live directly. The considered problem of Hispanic students is quite complex since it is necessary to take into account many internal and external factors. However, by dividing it into several parts in accordance with different sociological views and approaches, it is possible to understand the situation in the best way. All this allows researchers to assess people’s opportunities to change situations in the most favorable way.
Charmaz, K., Harris, S. R., & Irvine, L. (2019). The social self and everyday life: Understanding the world through symbolic interactionism. John Wiley & Sons.
Crisp, G., Taggart, A., & Nora, A. (2015). Undergraduate Latina/o students: A systematic review of research identifying factors contributing to academic success outcomes. Review of Educational Research, 85(2), 249–274.
Hayes, A. (2022). Conflict theory definition, founder, and examples. Investopedia. Web.
Hill, N. E., & Torres, K. (2010). Negotiating the American Dream: The paradox of Aspirations and achievement among Latino students and Engagement between their families and Schools. Journal of Social Issues, 66(1), 95–112.
Ormerod, R. (2019). The history and ideas of sociological functionalism: Talcott Parsons, modern sociological theory, and the relevance for OR. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 71(12), 1873–1899.
Stebleton, M. J., & Jehangir, R. R. (2019). A call for career educators to recommit to serving first-generation and immigrant college students: Introduction to the special issue. Journal of Career Development, 47(1), 3–10.