charles wright mills

Topics: Sociology, C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination Pages: 5 (1750 words) Published: April 22, 2014
Charles Wright Mills   C. Wright Mills was born in Waco, Texas on August 28, 1916 and lived in Texas until he was twenty-three years old.[1] His father, Charles Grover Mills, worked as an insurance salesman while his mother,Frances Wright Mills, stayed at home as a housewife.[1][4] His family moved constantly when he was growing up and as a result, he lived a relatively isolated life with few continuous relationships.[5] Mills graduated from Dallas Technical High School in 1934.[6] He initially attended Texas A&M University but left after his first year and subsequently graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1939 with a bachelor's degree in sociology and a master's degree in philosophy. By the time he graduated, Mills had already been published in the two leading sociology journals in the U.S., the American Sociological Review and the American Journal of Sociology.[7] Mills received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1942. His dissertation was entitled "A Sociological Account of Pragmatism: An Essay on the Sociology of Knowledge."[8] Mills refused to revise his dissertation while it was reviewed, and it was later accepted without approval from the review committee.[9] Mills left Wisconsin in early 1942 upon being appointed Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. Mills was described as a man in a hurry, and aside from his hurried nature, he was largely known for his combativeness. Both his private life, with three marriages, a child from each, and several affairs, and his professional life, which involved challenging and criticizing many of his professors and coworkers, are characterized as "tumultuous". He wrote a fairly obvious, though slightly veiled, essay in criticism of the former chairman of the Wisconsin department, and called the senior theorist there, Howard Becker, a "real fool". On one special occasion when Mills was honored during a visit to the Soviet Union as a major critic of American society, he criticized censorship in the Soviet Union through his toast to an early Soviet leader was was, "purged and murdered by the Stalinists," saying, "To the day when the complete works of Leon Trotsky are published in the Soviet Union!" Mills suffered from a series of heart attacks throughout his life and his fourth and final attack lead to his death on March 20, 1962. Wright Mills was heavily influenced by pragmatism, specifically the work of George Mead and John Dewey. The social structure aspects of Mills' works is largely shaped by Max Weber and the writing of Karl Mannheim, who followed Weber's work closely. Mills also acknowledged a general influence of Marxism; he noted that Marxism had become an essential tool for sociologists and therefore all must naturally be educated on the subject; any Marxist influence was then a result of sufficient education. Neo-Freudianism also helped shape Mills' work.   The Sociological Imagination   The  term  sociological imagination was coined by the American sociologist C. Wright Mills in 1959 to describe the type of insight offered by the discipline of sociology.  Mills defined sociological imagination as “...the vivid awareness of the relationship between experience and the wider society.’’ It is “the capacity to shift from one perspective to another—from the political to the psychological; from examination of a single family to comparative assessment of the national budgets of the world; from the theological school to the military establishment; from considerations of an oil industry to studies of contemporary poetry.”  The individual who applies the sociological imagination, as Anthony Giddens[2] has put it, is one is able to put him/herself away from the familiar routine of his/her own experiences with daily life. The sociological imagination may also be defined as the capacity to see how sociological situations play out due to how people differ in terms of their places in given social or historical...
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