Essay: the Promise of the Sociological Imagination

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JaypeeII – AB Sociology 10-10-11
Socio 212MWF / 1:30pm – 2:30pm

The Promise of the Sociological Imagination
(By: C. Wright Mills)

Charles Wright Mills (1916-1962) was an American sociologist, and a social commentator and critic. He was born on August 28, 1916 in Waco, Texas. Mills has been described as a “volcanic eminence” in the academic world and as “one of the most controversial figures in American social science”. He is committed to social change and angered by the oppression he saw around him. He was anti-authoritarian, showy and an individualistic. I figured out that, he got married three times by different women (Dorothy Helen Smith, Ruth Harper and Yaroslava Surmach) and had two daughters (Pamela and Kathryn) and one son (Nikolas Charles). Mills died on March 20, 1962 - cause of major heart attack.

One of the most influential works of Mills (that he coined) was the Sociological Imagination (1959), in which he set out his views on how social science should be practiced. Sociological Imagination plays an important role in explaining the nature of sociology and its relevance in daily life. He defined it as, “the vivid awareness of the relationship between experience and the wider society”. In addition, he believed in the power of the Sociological Imagination to connect “personal troubles” to “public issues” – is the ability to see things socially, and how they interact and influence each other. Therefrom, to have a Sociological imagination, a person must be able to pull away from the situation and think from an alternative point of view. It requires thinking ourselves away from our daily routines, and then looking at them over.

C. Wright Mills pointed out three components that form the Sociological Imagination: (1) History – how a society came to be, how it is changing, and how history is being made in it. (2) Biography – the nature of “human nature” in a society; what kind of people inhabits a particular society....
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