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C. Wright Mills and His Concept of the Sociological Imagination

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Within this essay I will be summarizing what C. Wright Mills means by ‘The Sociological Imagination’ and why it is necessary for individuals to possess it.

Within chapter 1 the author explores the plight of individuals and explains that individual troubles are usually linked to public issues and that often the problems that an individual experiences are derived from structural issues with society. For example, an individual problem in the modern world could be a person’s declining mental health, however when we look more broadly at this we can see that it is more of a public issue given the epidemic of poor mental health. Therefore, we must look at society’s role in causing this, this could be from a number of structural issues such as lack of funding for mental health services and a culture with a focus on overworking to the point of burn out. The sociological imagination therefore must be used to look past the issues of an individual to see the root of society’s problems and therefore how we can improve it as a collective.

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Mills believes that individuals are unaware and therefore ‘trapped’ by a poor understanding of how society works as they are caught up in their own lives, rarely looking out with their own social environment to see that their individual accomplishments and failures are often directly linked to changes within society. Individuals therefore cannot grasp the idea that the history of society has an influence on how they live their own lives and that they too must be able to influence society as a result of this link.

For an individual to truly understand the society in which they live Mills believes that they must develop the sociological imagination, which is a method of questioning the way society works and discovering the reason that issues have come to be in the first place. This is done by looking through what could be described as a lens that allows the user to gather information and critically analyze a range of societal influences and therefore gain a deeper understanding of why things happen within society.

To conclude, Mills aims to show that by using the sociological imagination individuals are able to understand that ‘history and biography’ are in fact linked, which therefore allows them to see the connections between seemingly minute personal issues and how the bigger picture in society as a whole has influenced them. It allowed for people to gain a greater understanding of where they sit within society and therefore the role they play in comparison to others.

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C. Wright Mills and His Concept of the Sociological Imagination. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 7, 2023, from
“C. Wright Mills and His Concept of the Sociological Imagination.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
C. Wright Mills and His Concept of the Sociological Imagination. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 7 Dec. 2023].
C. Wright Mills and His Concept of the Sociological Imagination [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2023 Dec 7]. Available from:
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