- 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: 44 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Sociological Imagination 40th anniversary Edition
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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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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.
On the other hand, one invested with such an appreciation for how biography and history interact to create the meaningful social circumstances of any situation finds himself better able to understand the fact that when in a country of one hundred million employed, one man's singular lack of employment might be due to his persoanl deficiencies or lack of a work ethic, and be laid at his feet as a personal trouble, it is also true that when twenty million individuals out of that one hundred million figure suddenly find themselves so disposed and unemployed, that situation is due to something beyond the control of those many individuals and is best described in socioeconomic terms as a social problem to be laid at the feet of the government and industry to resolve. To Mills, it is critical to understand the inherant differences between personal troubles on the one hand, which an individual has the responsibity to resolve and overcome, and social ills, which are beyond both his ken or control. Indeed, according to Mills, increasingly in the 20th century one finds himself trapped by social circumstance into dilemmas he is absolutely unable to resolve without significant help from the wider social community.
Thus, for both psychological as well as social reasons, a person using the sociological perspective, or invested with what he called the "sociological imagination", is more able to think and act critically in accordance with the evidence both outside his door and beyond himself. Fifty years later, such a recognition of "what's what" and "who's who" based on the ability to judge the information within the social environment is as valuable as ever. This is a wonderful book, written in a very accessible and entertaining style, meant both for an intellectual audience and for the scholastic community as well. While it may not be for "everyman", any person wanting to better understand and more fully appreciate how individual biography and social history meaningfully interact to create the realities we live in will enjoy and appreciate this legendary sociological critique and invitation to the pleasures of a sociological perspective by one of its most remarkable proponents some half century ago.