What is the sociological imagination?
Also termed the sociological perspective by those other than Mills. Seeing how the unique historical circumstances of a particular society affect people and also seeing how people affect history at the same time.
What influences what individuals become?
Historical circumstances of the particular society they live in
What do people shaped by their society contribute to?
The formation of their society and to the course of its history
What limits what men are directly aware of and what they try to do?
The private orbits in which they live. Their visions and their powers are limited to the close-up scenes of job, family, and neighborhood.
As men become more aware of ambitions and threats that transcend their immediate locales, what happens?
Men feel more trapped
What underlies man's sense of being trapped?
Impersonal changes in the very structure of continent-wide societies
What are facts of contemporary history?
Facts about the success and the failure of individual men and women
What two concepts cannot be understood without understanding both?
The life of an individual and the history of a society
Why do men not define the troubles they endure in terms of historical change and institutional contradiction?
Because men do not possess the quality of mind essential to grasp the interplay of man and society, of biography and history, of self and world.
Men cannot cope with their personal troubles in what way?
In such ways as to control the structural transformations that usually lie behind them
Why have Americans not known such catastrophic changes as men and women of other societies?
Because of historical facts that are now becoming "merely history"
What is the history that affects every man?
World history
What does the very shaping of history outpace?
The ability of men to orient themselves in accordance with cherished values
What does the sociological imagination enable its possessor to do?
Understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external career of a variety of individuals
What is this epoch called?
Age of Fact
What do men need to orient themselves in accordance with cherished values and to cope with the shaping of history?
Information, skills of reason, and the sociological imagination
Why do men need the sociological imagination?
Because it is a quality of mind that will help them to use information and to develop reason in order to achieve lucid summations of what is going on in the world and of what may be happening within themselves.
What is the personal uneasiness of individuals focused upon?
Explicit troubles
What does the indifference of publics transform into?
Involvement with public issues
What is the first fruit and lesson of the sociological imagination?
The idea that the individual can understand his own experience and gauge his own fate only by locating himself within his period, and that he can know his own chances in life only by becoming aware of the chances of all individuals in his circumstances.
What is the sociological imagination's task and promise?
To enable us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society
What is the mark or duty of the classic social analyst?
To recognize the task and promise of the sociological imagination
When does a social study not complete its intellectual journey?
When it does not come back to the problems of biography, of history, and of their intersections within a society
What's the first of 3 questions social analysts who have been imaginatively aware of the promise of their work consistently ask?
What is the structure of this particular society as a whole? What are its essential components, and how are they related to one another? How does it differ from other varieties of social order? Within it, what is the meaning of any particular feature for its continuance and for its change?
What's the second of 3 questions social analysts who have been imaginatively aware of the promise of their work consistently ask?
Where does this society stand in human history? What are the mechanics by which it is changing? What is its place within, and its meaning for, the development of humanity as a whole? How does any particular feature we are examining affect, and how is it affected by, the historical period in which it moves? And what is this period's essential features? How does it differ from other periods? What are its characteristic ways of history-making?
What's the third of 3 questions social analysts who have been imaginatively aware of the promise of their work consistently ask?
What varieties of men and women now prevail in this society and in this period? And what varieties are coming to prevail? In what ways are they selected and formed, liberated and repressed, made sensitive and blunted? What kinds of "human nature" are revealed in the conduct and character we observe in this society in this period? And what is the meaning for "human nature" of each and every feature of the society we are examining?
Contemporary man's self-conscious view of himself rests upon what?
An absorbed realization of social relativity and of the transformative power of history
What distinction is an essential tool of the sociological imagination?
The distinction between the "personal troubles of milieu" and the "public issues of social structure"
Where do the resolution of troubles lie?
Within the individual as a biographical entity and within the scope of his immediate milieu
What is an individual's immediate milieu?
The social setting that is directly open to his personal experience and, to some extent, his willful activity
Why are troubles private matters?
Because they occur when values cherished by an individual are felt by him to be threatened
What do issues have to do with?
Issues have to do with matters that transcend these local environments of the individual and the range of his inner life. Issues are the organization of many an individuals' milieu into the institutions of a historical society as a whole, with the ways in which various milieu overlap and interpenetrate to form the larger structure of social and historical life
Why is an issue a public matter?
Because an issue occurs when some value cherished by publics is felt to be threatened
What does an issue often involve?
A crisis in institutional arrangements and what Marxists call "contradictions" or "antagonisms"
How do you confront and solve structural issues?
You must consider political and economic issues that affect innumerable milieux.
When do people experience well-being?
When people cherish some set of values and do not feel any threat to them
When do people experience a crisis?
When they cherish values but do feel them to be threatened
When do people experience indifference?
When people are neither aware of any cherished values nor experience any threat
When does indifference become apathy?
When it seems to involve all their values
When do people experience uneasiness or anxiety?
When people are unaware of any cherished values, but still are very much aware of a threat
What have the problems or crises of our period shifted to?
They have shifted from the external realm of economics and have to do with the quality of individual life
Why are many great public issues, as well as private troubles, described in terms of "psychiatric"?
Because it is a pathetic attempt to avoid the large issues and problems of modern society
In contemporary American society, no problems of private life can be stated and solved without recognition of what?
Recognition of the crisis of ambition that is part of the very career of men at work in the incorporated economy
What is man's chief danger?
The unruly forces of contemporary society itself
Why is contemporary society man's chief danger?
Because it has alienating methods of production, enveloping techniques of political domination, and international anarchy. Its pervasive transformations of the very "nature" of man and the conditions and aims of his life make contemporary society man's chief danger.
What is the social scientist's foremost political and intellectual task?
To make clear the elements of contemporary uneasiness and indifference
Why are the social sciences becoming the common denominator of our cultural period and the sociological imagination our most needed quality of mind?
Because of the essential task that social scientists have to make clear the elements of contemporary uneasiness and indifference and because it is the central demand by other cultural workmen.
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