The Sociological Imagination

The name Mills gave to this promise was the sociological imagination, defined as that “quality of mind essential to comprehend the interplay of man and society, of biography and history, of self and the world”. The sociological imagination offered the ability to comprehend the significant interrelations between different parts of society. As Mills wrote, “what is specifically ‘sociological’ in the study of any particular feature of a total society is the continual effort to relate that feature to others, in order to gain a conception of the whole.”

The sociological imagination connected individual biographies with larger historical and structural forces; or, to use the terms that Mills employed earlier in his career, charcter and social structure. In concentrating on total social structures, the sociological imagination would not lose sight of the individual, as it contained “the capacity to range from the most impersonal remote transformations ot the most intimate features of the human self – and to see the relations between the two.”

– from Radical Ambition: C. Wright Mills, the Left, and American Social Thought


Categories: C. Wright Mills

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