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275 Words


Wright Mills released a book entitled ‘The sociological Imagination’.

In the first chapter of his book, Mills writes that “The sociological
imagination enables its possessor to understand the larger historical
scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external
career of a variety of individuals” (Mills.

Wright Mills' The Sociological Imagination Essay example

This method of approach directly opposes the concept of sociological
imagination, the ability “..to grasp history and biography and the
relations between the two within society.” (Mills.

Wright Mills Sociological Imagination]

These oppose theories put forward by famous sociologists such as
Durkheim and Karl Marx, and contradict Mills’ ideas surrounding the
sociological imagination.


No matter what theory it may be, whether it is a academically
recognised study or a moment of realisation by one insignificant
individual, it is generally accepted that a sociological imagination
is required in order to do this, as written in his book Mills states
that “in order to think sociologically, we need to develop the
sociological imagination”, that is, to look beyond the norm and see
the world as an outside observer.

Wright Mills' classic 1950's book of the same name

Finally, where do things stand in terms of Mills's major theoretical claims? At the most general level, the historical and cross-national evidence leaves me in agreement with Mills that the economic, political, and military sectors are potentially independent power bases, although I would add that power also can be generated from a religious organizational base, as seen in the civil rights movement, the rise of the Christian Right, and the Iranian Revolution. In terms of the United States, however, historical and sociological research leads me to place far more emphasis than Mills did on corporate capitalism and class conflict as the dominant factors in the power equation. Events and research in the United States since the 1960s also leave me with a belief that there are potential power bases for popular action that Mills overlooked, but with the proviso that these social movements are often in conflict with each other. Until organized labor, liberals, and leftists can forge a coalition of non-violent social movements and focus on Democratic Party primaries if and when they enter the electoral arena, the power elite will continue on its merry way whatever the consequences for everyone else.

The nationwide white turn to the Republicans made it possible for Mills's sophisticated conservatives to turn right on policy in the 1970s once the inner cities were calm again and the power elite was faced with new economic problems due to spiking oil prices and inflation, along with the challenges to their markets by the German and Japanese corporations they had decided to nurture after World War II in order to create a global capitalism. We know in detail about this decision to turn right because the issues were debated in think tanks like The Brookings Institution and policy-discussion forums like the Committee for Economic Development, where the majority said no to permanent wage and price controls, increased planning, and related liberal Keynesian policies. Instead, they advocated monetary policies that would cure inflation through throwing people out of work, cutbacks in the welfare state, deregulation of key business sectors, and continuing attacks on unions. The newly formed Business Roundtable, which gradually emerged as part of the anti-union offensive of the 1960s, took charge of the right turn. This, of course, brings us to the present moment, an almost unbroken march to the right on economic issues, along with an increasing concentration of the wealth and income distributions.

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Wright Mills, Floyd Hunter, and 50 Years of Power Structure Research

Fifty years ago, C. Wright Mills completed his trilogy on American society with the publication of , which encompassed, updated, and greatly added to everything he had said in (1948) and (1951). The book caused a firestorm in academic and political circles, leading to innumerable reviews in scholarly journals and the popular press, most of them negative. Bristling with terms like "the warlords," "the higher immorality," "the power elite," "crackpot realism," and "organized irresponsibility," it nonetheless contained a very large amount of research, much of it in the 47 pages of Notes. It became a classic because it was the first full-scale study of the structure and distribution of power in the United States by a sociologist using the full panoply of modern-day sociological theory and methods.

C. Wright Mills On the Sociological Imagination

Wright Mills' The Sociological Imagination
Length: 1763 words (5 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Excellent

The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills — Reviews, …

Today, Mills looks even better than he did 50 years ago in his characterization of the benefactors of American capitalism as a corporate rich led by the chief executives of large corporations and financial institutions, who by now can be clearly seen as the driving force within the power elite. His analysis also remains right on target as far as the nature of the political directorate, who circulate between corporations, corporate law firms, and government positions in the same way they did 50 years ago (and well before that, of course). Thanks to subsequent research, we can add that the political directorate learns about policy issues and rubs shoulders with academic experts through a corporate-financed network of foundations, think tanks, and policy-discussion groups. Although Mills knew of these organizations because he drew much of his information about the corporate community from , , and other business sources, he did not give them the attention they deserved in terms of formulating new policies that are carried to government through a variety of clearly defined avenues, such as testimony before Congress, blue-ribbon commissions, corporate-backed politicians in both parties, and appointments to government (Domhoff, 2006).

Write my essay - the power elite c. wright mills essay

As right as Mills was to include the military chieftains in the post-World War II power elite, he was wrong to give them equal standing with the corporate rich and appointees to the executive branch from the policy-planning network. On this issue there already was a consensus among pluralists, Marxists, and other critics within a few years after the book appeared, and nothing that has happened since, or that has been unearthed by historians about past military doings, has challenged that consensus. This point is demonstrated most directly by the fact that military leaders are immediately dismissed if they disagree with their civilian bosses, as seen numerous times since the early 1960s, and most recently in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, when a top general was pushed into retirement for daring to say there was a need for more troops than former corporate CEO and current Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his think-tank advisors thought necessary.

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