Sociological Imagination C. Wright Mills
The term "sociological imagination," invented by C. Wright Mills (1959), is one of the most popular sociological terms ever coined.
Some thoughts on developing a "Sociological Imagination"
Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both. -- C.Wright Mills
values of truth, reason and human agency are all fundamentals for
developing a sociological imagination. --Tony Fitzgerald
The personal is historical, public and political. -- judy lombardi
Biography, Histories, Public Issues and Social Structures
Developing a sociological imagination entails reflecting on one’s own biography, while putting it in a historical context, from a varieity of domains.
A sociological Imagination requires one to engage in the study of one's biography, in the context of a history of traditions and social structures.
Increasing one's sociological imagination orients an observer's understanding of one's:
1) positions in society
2) relations with "others"
3) responsibility for social change
Increasing one's sociological imagination provokes movement away from blaming "others," toward understanding "others" (verstehen) and thus -- understanding understanding. For example, understanding unemployment as a public issue as well as personal trouble invites the observer to focus on social structures, their interrelations and dynamics.
The Bigger Picture - - Making what was opaqu -- transparent
"The sociological Imagination enables its possessor to understand the larger historical scene."
A sociological Imagination enables one to see individuals, social structures and society as an interconnected web of human living. It can help one examine his or her life chances, choices and provoke human agency.
Sociological Imagination requires a mind similar to that of a criminal fiction wrtier (p.2)
- individual must be viewed in context -- mileau and mileaux
Developing a sociological imagination invites an observer (anyone who lives immersed in languaging) to establish interconnections between personal troubles, public issues and the social structures that make up a society or any social system.
1. What are the current social structures that are interconnected to the issue at hand?
2. What are the mechanisms (means) by which social structures stay the same or change?
3. Who benefits and who doesn't benefit from the current social structures, their relations ans dynamics? Are there particular human groups or categories of people that tend to prevail more than others? Why? How does this relate to their access to privilege and thus life chances?
4. Where do I sit in relation to the current dominant culture? What are my positions, statuses, roles in my milieu and milieux?
5. Do I desire a more equitable world? If so, what are the mechanisms for generating a more equitable society that I might initiate?
When accessing one's sociological imagination there is little, if any chance for acting without awareness of choice and responsibility. (cybernetics of cybernetics)
Sociolgical Imagination Group
More on Sociological Imagination
Fitzgerald. Tony. "Imagining the social."
Elwell, Frank. "The Sociology of C. Wright Mills. Online.
Mills, C. Wright. The Sociological Imagination. Oxford Press. 1959
Sweet, A. Steven. College and Society: Introduction to the Sociological Imagination