Public Sociology

In: Social Issues

Submitted By ssew1749
Words 2286
Pages 10
C. Wright Mills' Sociological Imagination
Works Cited Not Included
In 1959, C. Wright Mills released a book entitled ‘The sociological

It was in this book that he laid out a set of guidelines of how to carry out social analysis.

But for a layman, what does the term ‘sociological imagination’ actually mean?

In his own words, Mills claimed “it is the capacity to shift from one perspective to another…the capacity to range from the most impersonal and remote transformations to the most intimate features of the human self – and to see the relations between the two of them.”

. Mills believed that being able to see the relationship between the ordinary lives of people and the wider social forces was the key to the sociological imagination.

Fundamental to Mills’ theory is the idea of ‘public issues’ and
‘private troubles’.

An individual’s troubles are personal when they occur because of the person’s character.

Public issues, however, are a direct result of the problems within society, they affect people hugely but often the individual will assign the problem as their own personal downfall rather than as a societal problem.

An ordinary man may get depressed about being unemployed and automatically accept it as his own personal trouble. He will be condemned as being ‘lazy’ or ‘work-shy’ and labelled simply as a
‘scrounger’. However, if there are thousands of other individuals also unemployed, Mills argues it should then be treated as a ‘public issue’. Another good example of this is divorce. If only a few divorces occur within a society than it can be seen as person troubles of the people involved. If, however, masses of people are getting divorced every year than it can be seen as a public issue where institutions like marriage, law and media need to be looked at.


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