Sociologists have documented how important place is in people’s lives. For example, certain places are associated with various emotions, such as triumph, sadness, fear, and contentment (Gieryn 2000). We also know that as people live in a place for more time, they become more attached to it (e.g., Herting et al 1997). Other scholars have shown that the bonds people create between themselves and certain geographic places reframe how certain sites are understood both by those involved and by outsiders (Gupta and Ferguson 1997). These geographic-human bonds shape how people identify themselves and others, and how they understand the issues of people from other places. Thus, “place matters” in how we know ourselves, how we know others, and how we interpret the world (Gieryn 2000: 463). In this paper, I propose a teaching technique that builds upon students’ connections to “place.” The strategy involves the use of videos that feature local issues. By using local-focus videos, students are able to apply sociological concepts to their everyday lives. In addition, use of local-focus videos can enhance students’ sociological imagination.


This is the accepted version of Hoffmann, E. A. (2006). The Importance of Place: Using Local-Focus Videos to Spark the Sociological Imagination. Teaching Sociology, 34(2), 164–172. https://doi.org/10.1177/0092055X0603400207

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