The Sociological Imagination Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

ISBN-13: 978-0195133738
ISBN-10: 0195133730
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  • Length: 254 pages
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Editorial Reviews


"A classic I plan to use in all my general sociology courses."--Caroline Fielding, Lake Sumter Community College

"Performs an essential task in the service of intellectual lucidity and truth."--American Scholar

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

"Good for grad-level introduction to the meaning of social science."--J.D. Peters, University of Iowa

"A very fine book that will be recommended to students as a supplemental reading."--George Cucore, Cheyney State College

"Remains as timely as when it was first published."--Joseph A. Scimacaw, George Mason University


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)

Product Details

  • File Size: 1122 KB
  • Print Length: 254 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0140211306
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 40th anniversary edition (April 13, 2000)
  • Publication Date: April 13, 2000
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000SEOIK6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,148 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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