Mills: The Sociological Imagination
In 1959, sociologist C. Wright Mills investigated impersonal historical forces and connected them to the individual life. According to Mills (1959), this phenomena is referred to as the sociological imagination, claiming that “it is the capacity to shift from one perspective to another...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 of them” (p. 4).
Mills explains the difference between private and public issues by stating that a personal problem is when the problem occurred because of the person's character, but a public problem is the direct result of the problems that occurred within society, affecting many people. Often, people will attribute the public problem as their own personal downfall rather than realizing it is a societal problem (Mills, 1959, pp. 4, 5). In the sociological imagination, it shows that both public and private issues are two parts of one larger issue. Seeing the difference between what is a sociological cause and what is due to the individual can help people understand the difference between what an individual is really responsible for and what is due to social circumstances. Through the essay, it is clear that Mills believes that society shapes individuals just as much as individuals shape society. This is seen clearly in some modern day examples.
Many American's are finding it increasingly harder to find a job, thus not being able to pay their bills. An individual may look at his problems and realize that his problem also affects over 10% of our nation. This is no longer an individual, personal issue, nor is it because he is lazy or worthless. Rather, Mills would argue, we should look at our current economic crisis and the lack of regulation in our housing market and treat this problem as a public issue. Moreover, our divorce rate is at an all time high....