Sociological Imigination by C Wright Mills

Category: Culture
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“In his classic book, The Sociological Imagination, C. Wright Mills (1959) writes about the way we may feel or may view our lives through the lens of the sociological Imagination (p.1). Sociological Imagination can be understood as the relation between self and society and how they can be interpreted, or how one may affect the other. The sociological can be recognized as the type of insight one has on a society, a human attitude towards a specific problem or issue that takes place within a society. To use the lens of the sociological imagination, it is related to as putting yourself in a instance of time and viewing others around you, within the same society who may be experiencing the same challenges or issues as you could be. The sociological imagination is important because it gives one a sense of a different point of view, as well as it expands their societal awareness within them only having a limited knowledge about a certain topic or problem that takes place or has taken place in a society.

For example Mills argues (1959) “when war happens, an insurance man becomes a rocket launcher, a store clerk, a radar man; a wife lives alone; a child grows up without a father. Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both” (p. 3). I think this quote is important because Mills is relating this as to how it can have personal effects on people within a society, almost as a cause and effect scenario. What Mills wants readers to understand is that society can’t win everytime, and neither can individuals. There is always going to be a point in time where a situation with in a society could have a positive and or equal negative result on certain people who could be affected by the greater societal issues, there is always going to be problems placed on a functioning society.

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Mills then states the different ways one can view a situation in a society; Mills related “Troubles” and “Issues” as personal or as individual troubles and issues as “ a public matter,” as the “ most fruitful distinction with which the Sociological Imagination works” (p.6). Mills reminds us that through this lens of a sociological imagination we have the power to determine the way we view a problem and how we can differentiate between these two subjects. He also bases these understandings by determining on what a solution may be for both interactions. The “Promise” he is referring to is the one that the Sociological Imagination will provide you with if you decide to view society life in this way. Conceptualizing that this sociological study may explain and better help understand how these feelings can be originated by something larger than an individual’s life itself.

It is the mentality one must have in order to successfully view the sociological imagination. This adaptador way of seeing a society in this lens will broaden one’s knowledge about how a complete functioning society really works. With having a broad sense of perception about a society this will later contribute to develop a complete understanding as to why or how things work within a society. With having a full understanding on societal matters and realizing how important these problems or issues can be based on the way that they are understood, they could have a different resulting end factor for the individual as well as the society as a whole. With the use of the sociological imagination we are able to take a step back and reevaluate life with a different perspective that we did not realize beforehand.

The sociological imagination allows us to examine our own personal troubles, the things we encounter on an everyday basis, to be viewed as a societal issue which leads to my own analysis of a personal trouble I’ve encountered ever since I could remember. When I was growing up I experienced my first encounters with colorism from my community around me and my family members. Colorism is very common in almost every culture to the variation of the way one’s skin color might appear. Those with lighter complexions are often treated differently than those with darker skin with in a Hispanic community. Based on appearance alone I do not look like I belong to the Latinx culture and peers around me did not believe me that I was hispanic, soley judging based on my skin color. When I was younger people would make remarks to me like “you are not mexican, mexicans can not be white” and they went so far on to say that my parents were too dark to be my real birth parents.

When these remarks were made about me, they would place a negative connotation on having light skin like it was something you wouldn’t want to be or really made me feel like I couldn’t be, that I was not suppose to be. This relates to the sociological imagination in the way that I was being treated as insignificant within my already existing marginalized culture. These types of comments can result to issues within a culture by isolating those who are of lighter skin, and seeing them as a completely different ethnicity instead of embracing the diversity of skin color that could be present in any culture. If one does not have the “right” skin tone in my culture you can been seen as not even a member of the community. You are less likely to be favored or liked within the culture because I did not fit the qualifications as a regular or normal Mexican women would.

The effects of colorism in today’s society has led to discrimination and inequality within ethnic cultures. The unfair treatment of more fair skinned latinx can be attributed to the ongoing social tensions between latin and white American cultures. To many latinx people the richness of your skin tone can symbolize ones historically connection to their ethnic background. The sociological imagination has been relevant to my everyday in the way that it makes me feel, to know that I am seen different in the eye of my community or to know how others might view me within a limited functioning society.

With the descreprecneces made about me it made me feel like as I was not accepted with in my own community. Corolism is not only predominant in the Latinx community, but in various other cultures as well. For example African American cultures, Asian and Middle Eastern have also experienced this type of discrimination. This has impacted society as a whole in the way that America’s standards are more favorable to lighter skinned individuals as seen in standards of beauty and in social media. This social divide among members of the same culture has created a barrier between viewing and treating each other differently. This topic is not discussed regularly and is often overlooked by those who are not directly affected by it, which by with the use of a sociological imagination will open the awareness to individuals.

With the sociological imagination, we are able to reevaluate our life experiences and think about the factors that influenced them as well as how common our personal troubles really are with others. With this viewpoint it allows us to question institutions and systems that may have influenced the outcome and creation of our personal troubles. Instead of shifting the blame on a certain person or group within a society, it encourages us to get to the base of what the societal issue really is.”

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Sociological Imigination by C Wright Mills. (2021, Jun 05). Retrieved from