C. Wright Mills Sociological Imagination

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Exploring C. Wright Mills’ sociological imagination

Many sociologists believe that good sociology has to examine both the structure of a society and social interaction between individuals. It is only by combining the study of the major changes in a society and in individuals’ lives that one can form an understanding of social life (Haralambos, Holborn, Heald, 2000). People have an irresistible need to explain behaviour, to find the causes of an individual’s actions, and therefore make it seem orderly and predictable (Abell, Myers, Sani, 2014). Furthermore, sociologists share the aim of expanding this need for an explanation to the social world as a whole, even if their perspectives and approaches differ. They believe that
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Concepts of social structure and social action
Social structures mean the ways in which societies are organised (Mills, 2000). These structures include everything from the smallest units in society, such as families, to the major parts, like educational and political systems. All members of society are organised in terms of rules both written and unwritten; values and norms of the society are general guidelines for behaviour; people interact in words and ways they have learned from others, like family and friends, and from the society in which they are socialised (Abell, Myers, Sani, 2014).
The structural approach emphasises the way in which the structures of society direct human behaviour (Haralambos, Holborn, Heald,
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In a marriage the spouses may experience personal troubles, but should the divorce rates within a certain amount of years into marriage rise, it indicates a structural issue in the institutions of marriage, and thus becomes a public issue.

According to Mills, sociology should be about examining the biography of an individual in a wider context of history of societies (Mills, 2000). Sociologists must consider the major institutions of society, not only the personal situation and character of a range of individuals. Sociological imagination allows us to grasp history and biography, examine them together and separately, and their relation in a society. But sociological imagination is not merely an alternative approach for sociologists to play with: it is important to all members of society should they wish to understand, change and improve, not only their lives, but the society in which they live in (Haralambos, Holborn, Heald, 2000). It can be argued that the sociological imagination is crucial in controlling the risks and grasping the potential found in modern societies, and thus giving us an opportunity to improve people’s
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