The Sociological Imagination and Durkheim's View on Suicide

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In the following essay I will look at ‘The Sociological Imagination’ and Durkheim’s Sociological Perspective on suicide. I will do this by using two texts, ‘Sociology in Today’s World’, chapter one ‘The Sociological Compass’ (Furze, B. Savy, P. Brym, R.J, Lie, J. 2012) and ‘The Sociological Imagination’ chapter one ‘The Promise’, (C. Wright Mills).

C. Wright Mills wrote a book in 1959 called ‘The Sociological Imagination”. Mills coined the term Sociological Imagination and it has since been used as a very influential and relevant term in terms of helping to define what sociology actually is. It is also seen as a method in which sociologists use to interpret information. He writes “The sociological imagination enables its possessor to understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external career of a variety of individuals” (C. W. Mills. 2005).

Mills begins the relevant chapter by giving a summary of what he believes is a rapid fast changing world. “Men” being left behind in their old ways, becoming overwhelmed at the abrupt and tremendous revolutions that occurred - changing society forever. The following statement is his description of this, “In what period have so many men been so totally exposed at so fast a pace to such earthquake of change?” (C.W.Mills pg. 12. 2005). It is this that led Mills to define the sociological imagination as being able to see the relationship between the ordinary lives of people and the wider social factors and influences that affect them.

Mills accentuates the fact that an individual is unable to really understand the self and is unable to understand their place in society without first grasping the concept of the connection between biography and history. Essential to the sociological imagination concept was the terms ‘private troubles’ and ‘public issues’. An individual’s troubles are only relevant to the individual and their immediate surroundings. They are often...
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