Mills's Sociological Imagination Theory

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Critics of Mills’ concept of the sociological imagination note that his writings reflect the times he lived in. In stark contrast to modern scholastic writing, Mills uses the male pronoun ‘he’ to describe the population as a whole. The noted philosopher Bertrand Russel’s famous book also reflects this gendered approach in its title “has man a future?” (Russel, 1961). Nye (2004) advocates a “proper balance between an individual’s thoughts and the social and political context within which and about he/she thinks, between thinkers’ consciously intended positions and their unconscious assumptions and motives (p. 10). Mills’ work remains relevant because the idea of ‘sociological imagination’ transcends gendered and racial stereotypes, providing…show more content…
Nor is it constrained by instrumental goals. In addressing concerns about the validity of interpretive sociological research, the noted sociologist Anthony Giddens proposed three kinds of sociological imagination, which he hoped would further understanding of social structure. He categorized them as: historical, cultural and critical. Given that the sociological imagination can be described as an attempt to understand what is going on around us in order to “seek to understand the present”, Gidden (1997, p. 578) notes that the complexity of human behavior means that “it is very unlikely that a single theoretical perspective could cover all its…show more content…
However, it appears that the sociological imagination is a concept most useful to sociological research. It is a tool to understand the world which can be used to assess the “structure of the society being studied, an understanding how this society is situated in human history, and finally, the characteristics of the men and women in this particular society at this time” (Gouthro, 2005, p. 12). Brookfield, 1993, p. 64) is also an advocate of Mills’ concept of social imagination. He argues that it “stands as one of the most potent {…...} manifestos for American graduate education” inspiring Castle, (1996) to use sociological imagination in a study of black managers in affirmative action programs to explore how their lives were shaped by the larger social and political issues of apartheid, racism and poverty. This study exemplified Mills’ claim that “it is the political task of the social scientist continually to translate personal troubles into public issues and public issues into the terms of their human meaning for a variety of individuals” (2000, p. 187). A repeated theme of the sociological imagination and its usefulness to sound sociological research is its ability to place the personal into a public sphere. Combining the historical, cultural, structural and critical aspects of thinking, the sociological imagination offers us the tools to “apply our sociological gaze to see
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