Essay, Pages 4 (850 words)
The book The Sociological Imagination was written by an American sociologist C. Wright Mills in the year 1959. Mills was the first sociologist to coin and use the concept of sociological imagination. Later this became the keystone concept in the branch of sociology. He defines sociological imagination as the “vivid awareness of the relationship between experiences and wider society”. He describes it as the ability to see things socially and guides us on how to interact and influence each other. In this book mills also criticized the trends in social sciences of his period.
This book is a critical discourse on why and how to do social sciences. It comprises of 10 chapters and has been divided into three sections. The first section covers the major portion of the book. It makes the analysis of contemporary sociology. The second section of the book advises the present society to return back to ‘classical social sciences’ and it lays out the major tenets of what would entail.
The third and the final section explains the politics of science and questions ‘why is it urgent at this moment’.
In the first chapter, The Promise mills quote’s “Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both”. With these words, he tries to explain that there is a relation between individual and society. In particular, he describes that sociological imagination is a way of thinking that connects the private problems with public issues. Unemployment is one of the best examples of this situation.
Mills says that it is necessary to adopt sociological imagination, which is the way of thinking and asking questions sociologically by sociologists such as what is the structure of society? what is the place of society in history? And many more. In this chapter, mills described three tendencies of sociology such as historical, human nature, and empirical tendency. He concludes this chapter by saying sociological imagination is important today as it enables us to grasp history and biography and the relation between the two within society. That is its task and promise.
In the second chapter, The Grand Theory mills criticized the work of Talcott Parsons. Mills argues that the idea of parson considering entire social structures as one big society which he called concept won’t be the correct way of looking into social problems. Mills dislikes this general and universal way of parsons as it loses sight of real people living in the real world. Parsons’s way of writing in huge volumes and complicated language was also taken into mills account of criticizing. There is a huge variation in ideas of both the impact of socialization and social control on society.
In chapter-3 mills continues his critique of contemporary sociology by considering Abstracted Empiricism. It is basically the school of polling. It surveys various people and tries to produce a public opinion. But mills argue that collecting individual opinion just describes the way they think rather than identifying the force that motivates them to think. He also mentions that even abstracted empiricism is not wrong but sociology has been practicing a particular approach in which he feels a more appropriate way. The fourth chapter Types of Practicality deals with different approaches in putting sociological work into practice making it useful for some other goal. He says that there are two ways, they are ideological and historical. According to him, the ideological way challenges with one with authority in society while the historical way was a little liberal. But apart from these two at present, there is a new way called the bureaucratic way which focusses more on profit than explaining truth. It concentrates more on the managerial elite than society as a whole. Mills way very worried about this approach. He considered universities and professors has examples of this approach.
Chapter-5 The Bureaucratic Ethos, the word itself mentions that bureaucrats have the dominant role in society. Mills divided the development of bureaucratizes into five divisions and comments that by giving these five tools to bureaucracy, social science increases social domination. In chapter-6 he discussed the Philosophy of Science. Here mills compare the classical social science and new social science and supports the classical social science explaining the success and failure of both the systems. He describes that the classical method include both microscopic and macroscopic views on society which makes it so different from the new method. And he also mentions that the classical method draws connections between private and public instead of serving the interest of the managerial elite.
Till now in all the chapters mills mostly criticized the works of other sociologists. Now in this chapter, he shifted his attention from critics to recommendations. Firstly, he defines social science as Human Variety and explains how people are different within a society and among various societies. He also describes that biography, social structure and history need to be connected in doing social science. He also mentions that it is important to work together among various disciplines, if did in isolation people end up thinking that different parts of society are not related.