The Promise Essay

640 Words3 Pages
In this essay I will explain the distinction that C. Wright Mills (1959) makes between private troubles and public issues and discuss whether people still feel trapped, in the way C. Wright Mills (1959) described. I will relate my discussion to the twenty first century using examples form modern life. To understand the distinction that Mills constructs between private troubles and public issues, we must firstly understand his terms. He defines private troubles as occurrences that happen within the individual, when private matters, values cherished by the individual, are exposed to threats. ‘The troubles lie within the individual as a biographical entity and with the scope of his immediate milieu’ (Mills 1959:8). Public issues are matters, surpassing the boundaries of the individuals environment, which are values cherished by the public are under threat. Mills suggest certain public issues as unemployment, war, marriage, and the city. This distinction is a vital tool of Mills sociological imagination, without understanding the connection between biography and history, the individual is unable to understand the self and is unable to understand their role and place within society. The sociological imagination supplies the realisation for the individual to recognise and understand the greater forces at work within society and how these forces interact with, and affect the lives of the individual. It liberates the individual from isolation by giving him the knowledge to place his life in perspective. In modern day life today, like then, problems still affect our society of both personal and public significance. The distinction that Mills makes between private troubles and public issues is relevant in today’s society in that many of the examples he uses in relation to job, family and neighbourhood are still seen in modern day life. I believe, however, that people

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