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The Sociological Imagination

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  2,199 ratings  ·  84 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)
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4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,199 ratings  ·  84 reviews

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Aug 31, 2016 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
Eren Buğlalılar
Sep 17, 2016 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
Abby Brown
Jan 10, 2013 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 19, 2007 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
May 20, 2008 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 13, 2009 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
Apr 04, 2008 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
Obeida Takriti
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
من أهم المبادئ التي تعلمتها في الجامعة عن المجتمع ومشاكله..
حتى أنني لا أنفك أتكلم عن هذا المبدأ في أوراقي البحثية كما سأكتب عنها في رسالتي للماستر..
يؤصل الكاتب لهذا المصطلح من خلال بعض الأمثلة كما التحليل الفلسفي..
المخيلة الاجتماعية هي ببساطة تلك القدرة عند المجتمع وأفراده على رؤية نفسهم كمجتمع له مستقبل..
Simon Bailey
Sep 19, 2014 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
Aug 20, 2007 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 15, 2012 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.
Sam Still
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Compulsory reading for my summer university paper but a genuinely great book. Nothing groundbreaking (for me) but definitely reinforces that I’m looking at the world through the right lens.
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
Sep 26, 2007 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.
Wossen Agnew
Oct 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A must read for sociology student.
Jonas Carlsson
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The Sociological Imagination is a very inspiring read for all sociologists or social scientists to be. Mills makes some great arguments on what social scientists' real purpose and responsibility should be - focusing on the relationship between the individual and social structures when defining research problems, comparing structures to the societies and historical eras they exist in, and taking on a political role by informing the public of serious societal issues. Eventhough the book is very cl ...more
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sociology
A pretty outdated, but decent explanation of what sociology is, how an ideal sociologist ought to go about research and the ideals they should hold.
Whilst this book's general thesis is fantastic, the examples are largely outdated, the book is pretty dry and the book offers very little to somebody who has already studied sociology.
Whilst the book itself is about 2 stars, the appendix is 5. The appendix 'On Intellectual Craftsmanship' is a fantastic outline of how a sociologist or student of any
This book came recommended to me by a much-loved professor from undergrad, and I finally got around to reading it.

Published in 1959, this book seeks to call sociologists to action. While his contemporaries mired themselves in grand theory or abstracted empirical study, Mills argues for a sociology that takes its political job seriously. Rather than submitting to the will of the powerful, Mills argues that sociologists have a duty to inspire their students to think more critically and to really t
Julio César
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un clásico. Fue determinante en mi rumbo inicial como sociólogo, gracias a su inclusión en el programa de la materia por el profesor Rinesi. Recuerdo el prólogo de Germani, en el que ubica a Wright Mills en el contexto norteamericano, dice "está muy bien para EEUU, pero acá en Argentina hace falta burocracia primero".
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: sociology
Probably some good stuff here, but past the first chapter it becomes unbearably dense, and I was unsure of how each of the chapters connected to each other. Will probably appreciate more after it's taught/put into better context vis a vis other works of soc theory
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: university-reads
Read in part for CRM3301 (Contemporary critical theories in criminology) and other sociology classes. Any one who fancies themselves a social scientist should read this book. Mills provides the basis for any good social research.
Melissa Corbett
May 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
It's an interesting book but hard to understand.
Daniel O'Neill
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Very smart. But very hard to read for somebody.. like myself.. who is a new student.
Will have to come back to this in a few years.
Dustin Hartley
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Not that I completely agree with everything in this book, but Mills definitely challenged my ideas on how the social sciences should be approached. Interesting stuff!
Aug 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: library
i didn't really understand all of it, but i liked most of what i understood
Tom Crosby
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think its cool when you read a book that is 40+ years old, but it has weird little hints and general information that informs a lot of the weird changes you have experienced in the present.
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sociology
good stuff
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It helps you to think beyond you see
Michael David
The first hundred or so pages deal with abstract sociological theory that C. Wright Mills argues are missing the forest for the trees. He posits two then-popular modes of thought, which were abstract empiricism and the grand theory. His arguments against these modes of thought make sense: for example, there can't be a grand theory of sociology because, cliched as it seems, every person is different and unique. Every person is, thus, mutable. To generalize a group of people and state a theory as ...more
Jan 05, 2014 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
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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
“Let every man be his own methodologist, let every man be his own theorist” 32 likes
“Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both.” 17 likes
More quotes…