The Sociological Imagination Essay

Submitted By FelixNavarrete
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The Sociological Imagination C.W. Mills (1916­1962)
Most of his writings during the 50’s Brief history…
● Political Climate of the 1950’s
­ Conservative ● World Events
­ WWII and the Cold War
­ People were in fear of being nuked and being infiltrated by soviet ideology (Red Scare) Current State of the Union ● Americans are losing their democracy and their ability to make decisions that affect their own lives and the direction of their country
● Mills believed that widespread alienation, political indifference, and economic and political concentration of power is a serious threat to democracy
● Although Congress and political parties debate and decide some minor issues, the power elite ensures that no serious challenge to its authority and control is tolerated int the political arena The Power Elite (1956) ● Business
● Military
● Government
Where the power elite lies is where they overlap
The people who have influence over all 3 ● There is a “Power Elite” in modern societies, an elite who command the resources of vast bureaucratic organizations that have come to dominate industrial societies ● As bureaucracies have centralized the circle of those who run these organizations has narrowed and the consequences of their decisions become enormous ● The elite occupy the key leadership positions within the bureaucracies now dominate modern societies, the positions in which the effective means of power are now located Who is the Power Elite? Ethnography


Similar social backgrounds provide one of the major sources of unity among the elite
The majority of the elite come from the upper third of the income and occupational pyramids They are born of the ame upper class
They attend the same prep schools and ivy league universities
They are closely linked through intermarriage


Mills saw levels in American society below the power elite; at the bottom are the great masses of people
Largely unorganized, ill informed, and virtually powerless, they are controlled and manipulated from above
Masses are economically dependent
They are disorganized, far removed from organizations who hold the key to power
Mills fears our leaders are are acting (or failing to act) with irresponsibility, thus leading us to disaster

Military­ Industrial Complex Eisenhower supported mills
Wanted to end war to stop feeding into the wealthy The Sociological Imagination (1959) Wanted to show people how to view the world differently Chapter 1: The Promise
● Mills is coming from a perspective which he sees people in modern society as
­ They are so wrapped up in our own personal lives that they cannot see anything beyond it ● If They do happen to see beyond this into a bigger picture, they feel trapped or alienated
­ They cannot make the proper connection between their lives and how they fit into a bigger picture
● What most people don’t realize is that individual lives and broader historical societal circumstances are connected or intertwined
● People rarely attribute troubles or other aspects of their lives to society
­ Success and failure ● People fail to see the connection between themselves and society
­ Their personal troubles are hard enough to deal with, let alone being able to see the social structural causes that lie behind them
Three Problems in Modern Society

Alienated feelings cause many to become

● Information overload
● Moral breakdown