Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Sociological Imagination” as Want to Read:
The Sociological Imagination
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Sociological Imagination

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  1,674 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
C. Wright Mills is best remembered for his highly acclaimed work The Sociological Imagination, in which he set forth his views on how social science should be pursued. Hailed upon publication as a cogent and hard-hitting critique, The Sociological Imagination took issue with the ascendant schools of sociology in the United States, calling for a humanist sociology connectin ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 13th 2000 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1959)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Sociological Imagination, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Sociological Imagination

Freakonomics by Steven D. LevittOutliers by Malcolm GladwellThe Tipping Point by Malcolm GladwellNickel and Dimed by Barbara EhrenreichBlink by Malcolm Gladwell
Sociology Books
35th out of 384 books — 296 voters
The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins GilmanEmile Durkheim on Institutional Analysis by Émile DurkheimThe Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max WeberThe Sociological Imagination by C. Wright MillsThe Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
Sociology 101 Literature
3rd out of 18 books — 5 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Oct 08, 2016 Trevor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: social-theory
I’ve been teaching a first year university subject to student teachers on the sociology of education – I hadn’t realised how much fun I would find the course. It is sort of an opportunity to talk about all of my favourite things. But in the first lesson I had to explain what sociology is and so I talked about the sociological imagination and felt a bit of a fraud, as I hadn’t actually read the book. So, now I have.

And it’s a wonderful book. Conveniently, Mills provides his own three-sentence su
Abby Brown
Feb 11, 2013 Abby Brown rated it really liked it
The Sociological Imagination was written by C. Wright Mills in 1959, and he died in 1962 only three years later. He was a sociologist at Columbia University, and the goal of this book was to analyze the discipline of sociology with suggestions for improvement. He felt most mid-century sociologists lost their true purpose: "That these three - biography, history, and society - are the co-ordinate points of the proper study of man has been a major platform on which I have stood when criticizing sev ...more
Jul 06, 2008 leighcia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
The first 100 pages of this book were really hard to get through, and even after that, the book was very dense and took quite a bit of effort to understand. All that being said, this has been one of the most thought-provoking and academically-inspiring books I have read in the past year. Mills was a prominent sociologist of the earlier half of the twentieth century (if I’m not mistaken, he coined the phrases “WASP” and “white collar”). In this book, Mills criticizes the two dominant methods of s ...more
Apr 04, 2008 Christopher rated it really liked it
Shelves: academic
The first chapter is what is most often read and/or assigned, but I think it continues to be one of the best statements defining sociology and a sociological perspective.

The other chapters on grand theory, etc. are also worth reading, but the first chapter 'The Promise' is perhaps the most important and also mostly commonly cited by contemporary sociologists.

Mills' description of the way in which Americans tend to perceive problems as emanating from the individual - rather than considering larg
Eren Buğlalılar
Sep 17, 2016 Eren Buğlalılar rated it really liked it
C. Wright Mills, ABD akademisinin yalnız muhaliflerinden. 45 senelik kısa ömrüne Türkçede İktidar Seçkinleri ve Toplumbilimsel Düşün olarak bilinen sosyal bilimler kitaplarının yanısıra, Dinle Yankee gibi bir anti-emperyalist metni de sığdırmış. Uzun yıllar kendi halinde çalışmalar yaptıktan sonra, Küba Devrimi belli ki onu siyasi hayatta daha aktif olmaya itmiş. Hayatını sonlandıran kalp krizi de, katıldığı bir tartışma programında, emperyalizmin Latin Amerika politikasını eleştirdiği bir sırad ...more
Oct 31, 2013 Lobstergirl rated it it was ok
Shelves: own

There's a scene early in Crime of Passion (1957, Barbara Stanwyck, Sterling Hayden, Raymond Burr) when a newspaper advice columnist named Kathy (Stanwyck), a self-confident, independent, unmarried dame, is trying to cover a story about a woman who has killed her husband. A police chief comes into the press room and Kathy tries to get some information out of him. He says, "What are you doing here? You should be at home with your children, cooking your husband dinner." Sadly, Kathy does not at tha
Simon Bailey
Oct 06, 2014 Simon Bailey rated it really liked it
Shelves: academic
This book is known as a classic of any sociological canon. It is best read, I think, as a polemic. When i read the opening chapters on grand theory and abstracted empiricism, I was thinking it a 'theoretical' and 'methodological' exercise in critique - and considered as such it is a bit limited; hardly breaking sweat for Mills to take apart the grand theory of Parsons or the abstracted empiricism of behaviourism. But read instead as a critique of politics, ethics and craft, it is much more power ...more
Dec 21, 2007 Kate rated it liked it
Recommends it for: budding sociologists and scientists
Shelves: read-for-school
The Sociological Imagination is a term coined by Mills to describe the way that good sociologists view a problem and the possible solutions. He suggests that we view everything through the intersection of history, biography, and sociology, and that we multidisciplinary approaches to finding solutions for sociological problems. It's a hard read at first, and you start of kind of hating Mills and thinking he's an arrogant sod, but by the time I got to the solution chapters, I had begun to "get it" ...more
Dec 26, 2007 ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in society
This book is written as a sort of textbook for aspiring sociology majors, although Mills wouldn't like the term "textbook". He spends the beginning of the book fairly aggressively attacking current (in the 50s but still I think quite relevant today) trends in sociology and then goes on to explain sociology as he sees it: a neccesarily political and historical profession.

Though I wouldn't recommend it to everyone and it's certainly not light reading, it provides an excellent toolkit for starting
Aug 24, 2012 Andrew added it
Shelves: sociology
Think of this as a manifesto for the social sciences. Its key points: think critically, always consider ideological implications, and think holistically but pay close attention to the evidence. Mills was a remarkable thinker, and he shows why the social sciences have something to say about the world we live in. And, unlike many of his fellow Marxist writers, he has no patience for jargon or obscurantism. It's a clarion call for action that retains all of its power to this day.
Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
I'm writing a paper for the New York State Sociological Association and am going to use Mills as one piece of my theoretical foundation. His book is a pretty interesting look at sociology that matters and tries to make change as well as the interplay that happens between the individual (biographical) and the societal (historical) when making change. It also has some interesting parallels with journalism that I want to explore further.

For instance, Mills talks about sociologists who have become
Aug 29, 2016 James rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-business
This is more of a call-to-arms for sociologists than a theory on any specific society. Mills discusses/critiques the current landscape in approaches or "schools of thought" in sociology (as of 1959) and gives his thoughts on what those approaches should look like, what they should hope to accomplish, and what the role of a sociologist should be. I never took a sociology class, but once you learn the jargon, this is not too hard to get through, though still required me to read carefully/slowly. I ...more
Aug 20, 2015 Vadim rated it really liked it
Книга Миллса "Социологическое воображение" -- хорошее наставление для тех, кто занят исследованиями в области социологии и других общественных наук. Разбирая вредные для исследований уклоны в сторону выстраивания оторванных от потребностей жизни и даже ее исследования систем понятий (кто-то называет это "большой теорией") или в сторону сбора фактов, значение которых должен искать кто-то другой, Миллс выступает в защиту "социологического воображения", умения исследователя свободно перемещаться ме ...more
Sep 26, 2007 Fereidoun rated it really liked it
The Sociological Imagination is a usefull book to read for every one that like to underestand Social and Political relations. Specially inequality in human relations explained well. I enjoied of reading this book.
David Schaafsma
Mar 09, 2016 David Schaafsma rated it really liked it
Shelves: theory
“Let every man be his own methodologist, let every man be his own theorist.”

“The sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society.”

“Neither the life of an individual nor the history off a society can be understood without understanding both.”

― C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination

The Sociological Imagination is a classic sociological text published in 1959, three years before Mills died at the age of 45. The first half
Shaun Secaur
Sep 09, 2016 Shaun Secaur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Freedom is not merely the chance to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, to argue over them-and then, the opportunity to choose. That is why freedom cannot exist without an enlarged role of human reason in human affairs. Within an individual's biography and within a society's history, the social task of reason is to formulate choices, to enlarge the scope of human deci ...more
Nathaniel Free
Jul 22, 2015 Nathaniel Free rated it really liked it
A seminal production in social science from one of it's most iconic figures. The central theme of Mill's book is that social issues cannot be understood in isolation from their broader structural counterparts. He coins the term 'abstracted empiricism' to refer to the dominant paradigm within the social sciences which prioritizes method over issue, with its pedantic obsession with evidence. All of this boils down to a myriad of 'microscopic' studies which cannot be logically construed together to ...more
Jun 16, 2014 fcrazeg rated it it was amazing
This book has an interesting subject-matter. For me, you can read it all the book: the discussion between the Grand Theory (Parsons) and Abstracted Empiricism, his vision and his theoretical proposal. Besides you could read just the first chapter (The Promise) and the last chapter (Intellectual Craftsmanship). I am not going to tell the book, if you want to know, you must read it.
For me the first chapter is enlightening, the author expose a lot of thing that my book is completely highlight and,
Mar 28, 2014 Sean rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sociology, philosophy
This is one of the best known works of sociology and the highlight of Mills' impressive career. I've seen excerpts from Chapter 1 (An inspirational essay on "The Promise" of sociology) and the Appendix (A student's guide to the dos and don'ts and the author's helpful suggestions "On Intellectual Craftsmanship") in various introductory classes, course packets, and textbook anthologies of selected readings.

Between the oft-referenced first and last sections lay a scathing critique and intelligent t
Jan 11, 2009 Andrew rated it it was amazing
The Sociological Imagination reads like a manifesto for US sociologists and the intelligentsia. Full of bitter, but succinct and devastating critiques on the then most prevailing trends in sociology, âœgrand theoryâ and âœabstracted empiricism,â this declaration serves as a moral and ethical footing for those engaged in the field of sociology. Additionally comments on theory and methodology serve as useful tools for students both at the graduate and undergraduate level.

Certain pronouncements, s
Frances Mican
Apr 16, 2011 Frances Mican rated it really liked it
Although I was often frustrated by The Sociological Imagination, I feel that it is a must read for social scientists (and certainly should be read by educators, political scientists, historians, etc.). Mills can be hard to agree with at times, and I regularly had to re-read portions to really understand what was being said. However, this book is an important reminder that we need to act ethically as social scientists--we have to look at the impact of our work (who is it reaching? what are we try ...more
Aug 20, 2013 Tecni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probablemente haya sido uno de los ensayos sociales que más me han gustado en los últimos tiempos, y quizá también pase a engrosar mi lista de lecturas recomendadas para la gente interesada en estos campos (cada día menos) y que no sabe por dónde empezar. Como texto introductorio en los temas más analíticos de las Ciencias Sociales, me ha parecido una maravilla, uno de esos que los lees y casi te dan ganas de volver a la universidad. Entonces es cuando recuerdas por qué la dejaste, y prefieres s ...more
Penny Weaver
Aug 21, 2013 Penny Weaver rated it it was amazing
C.W. Mills shows us that there is definite relationship between societal changes and changes within our personal lives. This symmetry should help us recognize patterns in our own lives and the patterns of history. Looking at the world as "The Sociological Imagination" would have us do, can help us to develop values and strategies to achieve change.

Mills makes an interesting distinction between troubles and issues. A "trouble" occurs within an individual's relations with others. A "trouble" is a
May 09, 2010 Adam rated it liked it
Recommended to Adam by: Alex Hiatt
The book was written pretty understandably, and he makes a lot of good points about mindset problems that can hinder you while doing social science and what social science ought to be doing. I was particularly interested in the few paragraphs scattered throughout when he comments on what "science" is - and why social science can fit that definition. Also, after watching Sam Harris' TED talk on morality, a lot of what Mills said on the mission of social science for humanity really resonated me - ...more
Feb 02, 2016 Maria rated it liked it
University has absorbed my reading and as much as I miss fiction right now, I find no time for it. Finished The sociological imagination by C. Wright Mills a few weeks ago - it was difficult & easy, but good.
1CNeither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both. 1D
Punk Johnny Cash
C. Wright Mills has been swiftly becoming one of the biggest influences in my life. I suggest this book strongly, but it's mostly important to sociologists. I don't know if someone not pursuing sociology will get as much out of it as I did.
I think if I'd read this book in the 50s I'd have been blown away. It's not aged well! Yet it's still a MUST read for sociology students, and I can see why.
Bŕøķəñ Hèãŕț
Sep 12, 2016 Bŕøķəñ Hèãŕț rated it it was amazing
This book puts the research process in perspective. Easy to navigate and tailored to the needs of a first-time researcher.?
Mar 09, 2016 Sid rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book and required reading for those who want to understand social classification and individual-social relation.
Richard Sandbrook
A classic and critical study by a dissenting sociologist who died far too young.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge
  • The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life
  • Mind, Self and Society from the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist
  • Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology
  • Rules of Sociological Method
  • The Constitution of Society: Outline of the Theory of Structuration
  • Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste
  • On Individuality and Social Forms
  • The Civilizing Process
  • Outsiders
  • The McDonaldization of Society: Revised New Century Edition
  • Ideology and Utopia: An Introduction to the Sociology of Knowledge
  • The Theory of the Leisure Class (Modern Library Classics)
American sociologist. Mills is best remembered for his 1959 book The Sociological Imagination in which he lays out a view of the proper relationship between biography and history, theory and method in sociological scholarship. He is also known for studying the structures of power and class in the U.S. in his book The Power Elite. Mills was concerned with the responsibilities of intellectuals in po ...more
More about C. Wright Mills...

Share This Book

“Let every man be his own methodologist, let every man be his own theorist” 25 likes
“Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both.” 11 likes
More quotes…