Edited by John Scott and Ann Nilsen
The sociological imagination and public sociology
I first encountered Charles Wright Mills’s work in 1968 when I entered a further-education college in order to study A level sociology, which was then not available in traditional schools, and he has been the star by which I have since plotted my entire sociological career. I believe that sociology has a distinct imagination, in which it explores the intersections between individual lives, social structure, history, and politics. I believe there are no issues that cannot be approached in this way, although this is not to say that sociology always asks the most important questions about them, for despite my strong disciplinary identity, I am not a sociological aggrandizer. Like Mills, I see sociology as an inherently multidisciplinary subject, the least closed and the most open of disciplines. In this respect I am persuaded by his informative second footnote in the first chapter of The Sociological Imagination, where he describes sociology in terms that identify its interdisciplinary character. The working title for the book throughout his letters was ‘The Social Studies’, which I would have much preferred. And I subscribe to the same vision of sociology as Mills, that it has an essentially political task to try to make a difference to, and where possible, improve the lives of ordinary men and women. But all this only makes me more deeply aware of the paradox of the man: his view of sociology fits the mood of our epoch for engagement, for a form of public social science that addresses the real world problems facing twenty-first-century society
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.