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The Sociological Imagination 40th anniversary Edition

26 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195133738
ISBN-10: 0195133730
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Editorial Reviews


Praise for the original edition: "A challenge, a stimulus, and incitement to students everywhere to look at sociology with a fresh and clearer vision."--Times Literary Supplement (London)

About the Author

The late C. Wright Mills, Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, was a leading critic of modern American civilization.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 40th anniversary edition (April 13, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195133730
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195133738
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 0.5 x 5.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on July 30, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
No one has written with more verve and authority about the awesome and frightening capabilities of man than the late C. Wright Mills, a prominent and controversial sociologist who wrote such memorable tomes as "White Collar", an exploration of the emerging American Middle class in the early 1950s, and The Power Elite", a provocative examination of the nature of power, privilege, and status in the United States, and how each of these three critical elements of power and property in this country are irrevocably connected to each other. At last look, both books were still in print and are still used in both undergraduate and graduate sociology courses throughout the world. After fifty years, that in and of itself is powerful testimony to his enduring value as a scholar and an original thinker.
Here Mills focuses memorably on the qualities and uses of the sociological perspective in modern life, how such a scientifically based way of looking at, interpreting, and interacting with the larger world invests its user with a better, more accurate, and quite instrumental picture of what is happening meaningfully around him. For Mills, the key to understanding the value in such a perspective is in appreciating that one can only understand the motives, behavior, and actions of others by locating them within a wider and more meaningful context that connects their personal biographies with the large social circumstances that surround, direct, and propel them at any given historical moment. For Mills, for example, trying to understand the reasoning behind the sometimes desperate actions of Jews in Nazi Germany without appreciating the horrifyingly unique existential circumstances they found themselves in is hopelessly anachronistic and limited.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Tom Gray on July 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
TThis is a masterful work by an original thinker. Wright was concerned with the developments that he was seeing in the social sciences in his time. He was concerned that the social sciences was developing in ways that limited its value to humanity and therefore to itself. He saw the social science of his day as working against true freedom in society by allowing itself to be used to manipulate the population into unthinking acceptance of established authority.
He saw two major trends that removed the social sciences from addressing robust problems whose solution would make genuine differences to humanity. The first was a retreat into 'Theory' so abstract that it was unable to describe anything of significance. Wright uses as an example an article that describes a theory of human relationships that was so abstracted from reality that, as Wright shows, it could not capture the fact that sometimes people accept the norms of their society unwillingly. This theory was wrapped in such opaque jargon to unambiguously define the trivial that it last all relationship to genuine society.
Wright also identifies as a further development in the social sciences, an empiricism so constrained by technique that it can only address the most specific and mundane problem. If theory has become to remote and abstract to contact real society this empiricism is equivalent in being so immersed in the specifics of a society that it cannot capture more than the trivial.
Wright's book is a plea to social scientists to abandon these two enterprises and to return to a social science which is concerned with problems whose solutions will change society,. He calls the ability to find and understand such problems the sociological imagination. He sees practitioners of this form of sociology as inherently political.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By CHONG EU CHOONG on May 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
I first came across this book when I was an undergraduate doing a course on introduction to sociology. It was on the required reading list. I had to confess, when I first encountered it, I did not know what to make of the book nor what the fuss was all about.
Now, many years later, I have just finished re-reading the book and am now convinced why this is a classic in the literature of the Social Sciences. Mills in this book seeks to advocate a certain ideal in the discipline of sociology. Known as the sociological imagination, he advocates the idea of using sociology to bear on the unease which man(in a generic sense!) faces in his daily life. Mills is arguing that much of unease felt by the individual has social roots, i.e., it is shared by many others. The cause of such unease has to do with the structure of society and changes that is happening in it. Hence, there is a great need for sociologists (and other social scientists) to articulate how such unease has sociological causes and thus enabling the individual to understand how his biography intersects with the structure and history of his society. In this way, hopefully it will empower to individuals to transform such unease into public issues in order to bring about changes in society.
Overall, this work is intelligently written as well as being morally challenging.Sure, much has changed since the first publication of this book but it is a good place to start for those who wants to find out what is sociology and to those who wants to be reacquainted with the ideals of sociology.
It is a morally challenging work which needs to be read and re-read time and again!
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