As more and more minorities and women began adding their voices to the literary realm, ideas regarding identity became more confused and ill-defined as it became realized that who we are is often the result of how we interact with others. To understand how this realization of the sociological imagination was expressed, it is helpful to analyze how a master author of the period, F. Scott Fitzgerald, portrayed these ideas in his novel The Great Gatsby.
Sociological imagination is the way in which we stratify ourselves within our society and in how we develop our own identity. By linking our own personal experience with the collective understanding of what that represents, we are able to classify ourselves as well as others within specific social groups. It is upon this understanding that we form and understand our own identity. Three aspects of the sociological imagination include class, race and gender. Class is based upon a variety of factors including profession, income levels and educational attainment. People with a great deal of education are often identified as holding higher level professional positions and higher rates of pay than less educated individuals. While class is often considered quite flexible, race and gender remain difficult to change. Race is determined based on physical characteristics, but can also be influenced by ethnic concerns. Generally, ethnicity is considered to refer to a person’s national origin, language, religion, dietary practices or common historical heritage. Although race is inherited through the genes, ethnicity is the result of socialization from one generation to the next. Gender is a learned identification with a particular biological sex – male or female – while sexuality refers to the way in which people organize their world based on sexual identity. All of these things are used to help shape and compare ourselves with the people around us so that we can determine just what kind of person