The Sociological Imagination

Mills believed that the diffusion of the sociological imagination within American culture contained the political promise of helping individuals better understand and control the larger structural forces that shaped their lives. Many people, he claimed, failed to comprehend the impact of large-scale social institutions in their lives. They either understood their lives in terms of a local milieu of private troubles or were falsely conscious of their place in society. The sociological imagination would enable them to link their personal biographies to larger historical and structural trends and, in doing so, allow them to translate their seemingly private troubles into public issues. By using the sociological imagination, they could fully participate in making America a more democratic society. Thus, for Mills, the “intellectual promise of social science” was fundamentally related to the “political promise of the role of reason in human affairs.”

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


Categories: C. Wright Mills

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