What C. Wright Mills Meant by The Term Sociological Imagination

What C. Wright Mills Meant by The Term Sociological Imagination

Experience & Society

Mills defines sociological imagination as “the vivid awareness of the relationship between experience and the wider society” (Mills, 1959). This concept provides for what is known as the sociological perspective which is defined as seeing the general in the particular. Within this definition one can see this perspective as seeing the general patterns in behavior of particular people or groups. Once uses the sociological imagination in order to see society from imaginative thought which allows one to connect patterns and other behavior that often goes unnoticed. Two important elements of thought are developed from the use of sociological imagination: sociological understanding and social realization. Sociological understanding is the development of an awareness of how society impacts group and individual behavior through factors such as norms, mores, traditions, religion, etc… Social realization is the understanding that socialization is a dynamic process and that it is happening all around people. Students acquire sociological imagination simply by becoming aware of the patterns of behavior through the study of sociology. This imagination is important because when one understands how society works and its impacts they can begin to examine their place within the society in a more critical and autonomous fashion.


Mills, C. Wright. The Sociological Imagination (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1959),5,7. Print

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