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Unformatted text preview: C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination 1) What, according to Mills, is the sociological imagination? The sociological imagination is the capacity to discern the relationship between large- scale social forces and the actions of individuals. It includes both the capacity to see relationships between individual biographies and historical change, and the capacity to see how social causation operates in societies. The issues of marriage and unemployment are used by Mills to illustrate that personal troubles can be explained by social issues when there is an underlying relationship between the two. In the case of marriage and divorce it is clear that the high level of divorce “indicates a structural issue having to do with the institutions of marriage and the family.” In the case of the economy, the organization and structure is so arranged that slumps occur and “the problem of unemployment becomes incapable of personal solution.” “An increasing need is felt to pay closer yet more imaginative attention to the social routines and catastrophes which reveal man's nature in this time of civil unrest and ideological conflict” “It is the quality of mind that seems most dramatically to promise an understanding of the intimate realities of ourselves in connection with a larger social reality” 2) Why does Mills argue that this imagination is needed? To understand the changes of many personal milieux. To make clear the elements of contemporary uneasiness(unaware of cherished values, but still aware of a threat to them) and indifference(neither aware of cherished values nor experience any threat). 3) How does Mills define freedom? “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, the opportunity to choose….The problem of freedom is the problem of how decisions about the future of human affairs are to be made and who is to make them.” 4) Give any example that you can think of that helped you understand what Mills means by “the problem of the cheerful robot.” Contends that bureaucracies have overwhelmed the individual city worker, robbing him or her of all independent thought and turning him into a sort of a robot that is oppressed but cheerful. He or she gets a salary, but becomes alienated from the world because of his or her inability to affect or change it. For example, a typical factory worker. “ The sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society” “The capacity to range from the most impersonal and remote transformations to the most intimate features of the human self- and to see the relations between the two” “To be aware of the idea of social structure and to use it with sensibility is to be capable of tracing such linkages among a great variety of milieux” “It is a quality of mind that seems most dramatically to promise an understanding of the...
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This note was uploaded on 11/07/2010 for the course SOC 1 taught by Professor Mechlinski during the Spring '08 term at UCSB.
- Spring '08