Unfortunately, Mills met an untimely death
in the early 60's...long before he was able
to accomplish all he had within him. But in
addition to his classic work mentioned above,
he did substantial work for us to still
consider. The Power
Elite is one such work...see the
link to it below for further details.
There's a full-length biography by Irving
Horowitz...as well as a compilation of his
completed works and uncompleted projects. In
short, Mills is a font of information and
there has been no one like him in Sociology
since his passing. I urge all serious
students of sociology...not to mention those
people who simply possess what he himself
called a "sociological imagination" (whatever
the field or interest they may be in or
have)...to investigate his ideas.
Many of the ideas in The Sociological
Imagination are quoted by
others...many are incorporated within their
perspectives. Although there are many
statements in this book which caught my own
attention, there is one small section which,
above others, has been most meaningful. On
pp. 6-7 Mills talks about three (3) questions
that great thinkers from a variety of
disciplines and even viewpoints have
consistently asked in their investigations of
humanity and society. While the answers
given to them by thinkers have
varied...especially in accuracy and/or
completeness...Mills says these questions
reflect their possession of a "sociological
imagination." (the discipline name, as Mills
points out, could be any...he was a
sociologist and that's the term he used...as
he candidly pointed out) These three
questions cover the full range of an
integrated sociological perspective.
Integrated here means from Macro to Micro and
vice-versa...reflecting the interrelatedness
of these seemingly opposite and contradictory
levels of analysis. They were anything BUT
for Mills, me, and numerous other
sociological thinkers, although some would
maintain that we should not "mix" these
levels. These are the people Mills was
critiquing in his book and this should be
taken into consideration while trying to
understand Mills' purposes and point of
To me, Mills' "Sociological Imagination
Questions" represent an "agenda" for
sociologists, students, and other interested
people. I present them here to indicate the
breadth and depth of a sociological
imagination. Mills wrote them in paragraph
form...but I have "outlined" them (changing
not one word) to make his "agenda" more
Sociological Imagination Questions
A. What are its essential components, and
how are they related to one another?
B. How does it differ from other
varieties of social order?
C. Within it, what is the meaning of any
particular feature for its continuance and
for its change?
2. Where does this society stand in human history?
A. What are the mechanics by which it is
B. What is its place within and its
meaning for the development of humanity as a
C. How does any particular feature we are
examining affect, and how is it affected by,
the historical period in which it moves?
D. And this period...what are its
E. How does it differ from other
F. What are its characteristic ways of
3. What varieties of men and women now prevail in this society and in this period?
A. And what varieties are coming to
B. In what ways are they selected and
formed, liberated and repressed, made
sensitive and blunted?
C. What kinds of "human nature" are
revealed in the conduct and character we
observe in this society in this period?
D. And what is the meaning for "human
nature" of each and every feature of the
society we are examining?
Here are some related