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Sociologists differ in their understanding of the concept, but the range suggests several

important commonalities.
C. Wright Mills defined sociological imagination as "the vivid awareness of the relationship
between personal experience and the wider society."[citation needed][1]
Sociological Imagination: The application of imaginative thought to the asking and
answering of sociological questions. Someone using the sociological imagination "thinks
himself away" from the familiar routines of daily life.[2]
Another way of describing sociological imagination is the understanding that social
outcomes are based on what we do. To expand on that definition, it is understanding that
some things in society may lead to a certain outcome. The factors mentioned in the
definition are things like norms and motives, the social context are like country and time
period and the social action is the stuff we do that affects other people. The things we do
are shaped by: the situation we are in, the values we have, and the way people around us
act. These things are examined to how they all relate to some sort of outcome. Sociological
imagination can also be considered as the capacity to see things socially, how they interact,
and influence each other.
Things that shape these outcomes include (but are not limited to): social norms, what
people want to gain out of something (their motives for doing something), and the social
context in which they live (ex.- country, time period, people with whom they associate).
Basically, as an aspect of sociological imagination, what people do is shaped by all these
things that result in some sort of outcome.
The sociological imagination is the ability to see things socially and how they interact and
influence each other. 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 to "think
ourselves away from our daily routines and look at them anew". To acquire knowledge, it is
important to break free from the immediacy of personal circumstances and put things into a
wider context, rather than following a routine. The actions of people are much more
important than the acts themselves.
Sociological imagination is the capacity to shift from one perspective to another.
Mills believed in the power of the sociological imagination to connect "personal troubles to
public issues."
There is an urge to know the historical and sociological meaning of the singular individual in
society, particularly in the period in which he has his quality and his being. To do this one

may use the sociological imagination to better understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner self and external career of a variety of individuals. It acknowledges the value of films as historical documentation of changes in cultural ideas. Those who teach courses in social problems report using films to teach about war. There are benefits of using film as part of a multimedia approach to teaching courses in popular culture. and institutions. The underlying assumption is that the sociological imagination is best developed and exercised in the introductory class by linking new materials in the context of conflict theory and functionalism.could offer the concepts and skills to expose and respond to social injustice. the sociological perspective.[6] One can think of sociological perspective as our own personal choice and how the society plays a role in shaping our individual lives.. was thought of by Peter L. materials. . In some introductory sociology classes. which he criticized in his classic The Sociological Imagination. He stated that the sociological perspective was seeing "the general in the particular" and that it helped sociologists realize general patterns in the behaviour of specific individuals.. [3] Another perspective is that Mills chose sociology because he felt it was a discipline that “. to aid students in adopting a global perspective and to confront issues of race relations.”[4] He eventually became disappointed with his profession of sociology because he felt it was abandoning its responsibilities. the sociological imagination is brought up.[6] Uses of sociological imagination in films[edit] The advantages of using popular films to enhance students' comprehension of sociological topics is widely recognized. along with Mills and how he characterized the sociological imagination as a critical quality of mind that would help men and women "to use information and to develop reason in order to achieve lucid summations of what is going on in the world and of what may be happening within themselves."[5] Sociological perspective[edit] A related term. It also provides students of medical sociology with case studies for hands-on observational experiences. Berger. Feature films are used in introductory sociology courses to demonstrate the current relevance of sociological thinking and to show how the sociological imagination helps us make sense of our social world.

" outlining and criticizing their use in the current sociology of the day. This led him to question whether individuals exist in modern societies in the sense that "individual" is commonly understood (Mills. Mills was trying to reconcile two varying.1 Social order o 1. 7-12).1 The political nature of Mills's work 5 The Personality of C. and is not necessarily the most important. In writing The Sociological Imagination. which he saw as inextricably embedded in the creation and maintenance of modern societies. abstract conceptions of social reality—the "individual" and "society"—and thereby challenged the dominant sociological discourse to define some of its most basic terms and be forthright about the premises behind its definitions. This approach challenges a structural functionalist approach to sociology. He began the project of reconciliation and challenge with critiques of "grand theory" and "abstracted empiricism. as it opens new positions for the individual to inhabit with regard to the larger social structure.The Sociological Imagination is a book by American sociologist C. Mills felt that the central task for sociology and sociologists was to find (and articulate) the connections between the particular social environments of individuals (also known as "milieu") and the wider social and historical forces in which they are enmeshed.2 Role of social theory 2 Abstracted empiricism 3 The human variety 4 Reaction to The Sociological Imagination o 4. Mills also wrote of the danger of malaise [clarification needed]. Individual function that reproduces larger social structure is only one of many possible roles.[1] Contents [hide]          1 Grand theory o 1. In 1998 the International Sociological Association listed this work as the second most important sociological book of the 20th century. Wright Mills. first published by Oxford University Press in 1959 and still in print. Wright Mills 6 Legacy of Mills 7 References 8 External links 9 See also Grand theory[edit] . 1959.

1959. Role of social theory[edit] He further criticizes Parsonian Sociology on its ability to theorize as a form of pure abstraction that society can be understood irrespective of its historical and contextual nature without observation. Abstracted empiricism[edit] In his third chapter. such domination may be seen as a further extension of power and social stratification. written by Talcott Parsons. what grand theorists call value orientation could in actuality be a form of domination and thereby may simply be a form of legitimation (Mills. This can thereby be seen as much a criticism by Brewer that . He writes that every individual cannot simply be fully integrated into society and internalize all its cultural forms. According to Mills. 1959. Social order[edit] Mills (1959) criticizes the Parsonian formulation of social order. 46-48). The Power Elite andWhite Collar. Furthermore. Mills criticizes this tendency in sociology on several grounds. Parsons describes the nature of the structure of society and the creation and maintenance of a culture through the socialization of individuals. 1959. i. 1959. 33-36). 40-46). particularly the idea that social order can indeed be seen as a whole.In chapter two of his work. All power according to Parsons is based on a system of beliefs enforced by society. He thereby criticizes the means by which a social order can be derived without observation (Mills. writes Mills. In this he criticizes Parsons for his view in terms of historical and social change and diversity (Mills. Mills (1959) can be seen to criticize the empirical methods of social research which he saw as evident at the time in the conception of data and the handling of methodological tools. 26-30). He argues for a more heterogeneous form of society in that he challenges the extent to which a single uniformity of society is indeed possible (Mills. Mills (1959) seems to be criticizing Parsonian Sociology. Brewer (2004) sees such a work as The Sociological Imagination as an extension of Mills's other works on power and social stratification. In The Social System. He argues that society and its cultural symbols cannot be seen as self-determining and cannot be derived without reference to individuals and their consciousness. This can be seen as a reaction to the plethora of social research being developed from about the time of the Second World War.e. In this he directly addresses The Social System.

In doing so. 1959. He writes of the need to integrate the social. and historical versions of reality in which individuals construct their social milieus with reference to the wider society (Mills. This is somewhat appropriate given that the nature of Mills's work patterned around the biography of individuals. 136-140). 65-68). he argues. He argues that the problem of such social research is that there may be a tendency towards “psychologism”. 2004. 1959. in which the divisions between the disciplines become increasingly fluid (Mills. He hoped to reconcile the issues of individuals with the problems facing society. .2004). Mills writes of the importance of the empirical adequacy of theoretical frameworks. He argues that the nature of society is continuous with historical reality. He then writes of the construction of milieu in relation to social research and how both theory and research are related (Mills. This he believes is not a conscious effort but is a result of the historical problem-based discourses out of which the disciplines developed. 132-134). 1959. Thus Mills (1959) sets out what he believed to be a problem-based approach to his conception of social sciences (140-142). in as much as Mills's own life has been seen by others as illustrative of his conception of Sociology. The human variety[edit] In chapter seven of his work. biographical. 1959. His work was not well received at the time. He also writes of the notion of a unified social sciences. which can be seen as a result of Mills's professional and personal reputation (Brewer. may lead to the separation of research from theory. Reaction to The Sociological Imagination[edit] Mills's work was widely read in its time and The Sociological Imagination is still one of the most widely read tracts of sociology and a staple of undergraduate sociology courses.Mills may have been critical of the research being conducted and sponsored by the American government(Brewer. their historical actions and the relation to the wider society in terms of structure. This. Lazarsfeld who conceives of Sociology not as a discipline but as a methodological tool (Mills. which explains human behavior on the individual level without reference to the social context. 317). In this he can be seen criticizing the work of Paul F. As such Mills (1959) criticizes the methodological inhibition which he saw as characteristic of what he called abstract empiricism. Mills (1959) sets out what is thought to be his vision of Sociology. 55-59).

2005. It can also. . political. Mills criticized the "grand theory" and the positivism of structural functionalism in Parsons' work (Brewer. however. be seen as return by those such as Brewer to a tradition of “social reformism” as well as a response to the professionalization of the discipline (Brewer. Both in Britain and in America he came under criticism. 326-328). we can see the “space of selfhood” which Mills argued individuals connect individuals with society as a whole. 320-321). 320). his criticism of structural functionalism and of its accompanying critiques of power and stratification made him somewhat subject to severe criticism (Brewer. 2005. of personalized experiences being used to link public discourses he can thereby be seen to mark a biographical turn in post-structuralist Sociology (Brewer. The Personality of C. Thus. 328-330). Wright Mills[edit] The reception of C. In America. he can be seen as a trying to create a three-dimensional view of society and. The political nature of Mills's work[edit] This exacerbated what were seen as professional disagreements which were then ongoing with other professionals in the discipline. Lazarsfield) and what he refers to as the “fetishisation of concepts” in the works of those such as Talcott Parsons. In Britain his work was criticized for the extent to which he was seen to attack empirical Sociology which was then common in Britain at the time. 2004. His work was widely criticized due to what were perceived critical attacks on the discipline. In his work. In this. As such. according to Brewer (2004). he was viewing society as simultaneously macroscopic and microscopic in nature whilst trying to merge both historical and contemporary social realities (Brewer. In particular his criticism of abstracted empiricism was seen in conjunction to his criticisms of both state sponsored research and the political policies of the Cold War American government (Brewer. 661-663). 322-324). His work can also be seen as reaction to cold war America and the radicalism and disengagement with establishment sociology.thereby framing individuals' problems in social. and historical reality (Brewer. 663-665). 2004. attempted to break down the divide between the public and the private realms of society. Wright Mills can now be seen as somewhat illustrative of Mills's personality. 2004.e. the work of Paul F. This can be seen in his writings where he criticizes both the “methodological inhibition” of what he refers to as abstract empiricism (i. Thus. his work was not well received. 2004. 2004. something characteristic of Sociology at the time.

Brewer (2005) seems to see him returning the discipline to the configuration of biography and self in the configuration of social space. in Burawoy. in his idea of social space and social configurations of space. In his speech to the American Sociological Association he speaks of the importance of public discourse and the importance of Sociology as an agent of historical change (Burawoy. Thus the work of Mills can be seen as an illustrative example in terms of his biography of the conception of social space and the importance of narrative (Brewer. selfreliance. .His conception of the specialization of the discipline can be seen in the works of Georg Simmel. 259-261). His life is therefore seen as having an impact on his construction of self. This can also be seen in his work Ethnography Unbound. in which he refers to his Extended case method of ethnography and relates C. 2005. Thus. 1991. 2005. 665-667).” as referred to by Brewer (2005). can be seen as form of personal survival whereby Mills could thereby distance himself from personal and professional criticism. Wright Mills can be seen as extended in the work of Michael Burawoy and his conception of “Public sociology”. 6). 668-671). Wright Mills. Legacy of Mills[edit] The work of C. This can also be seen in thesocial constructionism and the importance of space and time in the work of Anthony Giddens. 2005. Wright Mills work in his idea of theory construction as the relation of “the personal troubles of the milieu” to “the public issues of the social structure” (C. the Sociological Imagination is seen by many as a connection between Mills’ life and work (Brewer.” This “outsider mentality. and individualism in the creation of autonomy and what others would refer to as the “[o]ccupational role of the loner. Thus. This is most reminiscent of “the templates of the self” as seen as the understanding of the self in relation to social space as written by Erving Goffman and his conception of “frontstage” and “backstage”. This can be seen as a reflection therefore of his background and the importance he placed on independence.