The Promise Of Sociology

C. Wright Mills


        Men now days often feel that their lives are a series of traps. They feel in their worlds they canít overcome their troubles. According to Mills this is correct.

        You cannot understand the life of an individual or the history of society without understanding both.

        People do not see how the changes in history affect them. The do not see how the upsand downs they experience in their lives are affected by their society.

        People do not see the connection that exists between the patterns in their lives and the course of history.

        People need a quality of mind to use information to develop reason to make connections between what is going on in the world and what is happening to themselves. He calls this the Sociological Imagination.

        Sociological Imagination allows us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society. That is both its task and its promise. This is the purpose of classical social analysts.


Three sorts of questions have been asked by sorts of questions asked by classical social analysts:


1.      What is the structure of this particular society as a whole? What are its essential components, and how are they related to one another? How does it differ from other varieties of social order? Within it, what is the meaning of any particular feature for its continuance and for its change?

2.      Where does this society stand in human history? What are the mechanics by which it is changing? What is its place within and its meaning for the development of humanity as a whole? How does any particular feature we are examining affect, and how is it affected by the historical period in which it moves? And this period-what are its essential features? How does it differ from other periods? What are its characteristic ways of history-making?

3.      What varieties of men and women now prevail in this society and in this period? And what varieties are coming to prevail? In what ways are they selected and formed, liberated and repressed, made sensitive and blunted? What kinds of "human nature" are revealed in the con-duct and character we observe in this society in this period? And what is the meaning for "human nature" of each and every feature of the society we are examining? †††††††††††††††††††††††††††


        The most important distinction is between the issues and the troubles.

        Issues- have to do with the matters that transcend these local environments of the individual and the range of his inner life.

        Troubles- occur within the character of the individual and within his range of his immediate relations with others. It has to do with his self and with those areas of social life in which he is directly and personally aware.

        The sociological imagination is supposed to help man to understand that what is happening to themselves is a result of intersections of history and biography within their society.