Mills distinguished between Personal problems and Public issues GLIIHUHQFHOLHVLQWKH¶V
Personal problems - VWHPVIURPSULYDWHPDWWHUVWKDWOLHZLWKLQDQLQGLYLGXDO¶VFKDUDFWHUDQG
immediate relations with friends and family; occurs when hardly anyone else has this problem
Public issues go beyond the personal and local setting to broader social forces that affect the life
of many people (a significant portion of the population) . Ex. Unemployment
- Credentials are usually what we look at in society; marriage, >1 year cohabitation. All
of these structures of the country are all part of the overall structure
Relation of two different structures of society: The legitimacy of bigamy is argued by the
structure of marriage and the structure of religiosity ± both strucutures are recognized by the
constitution but the question lies in who has more authority.
sociological imagination -> the capacity to understand the relationships between elements of
society and their impact on individual life chances
- Mills argues that it is the sociological imagination that has become the central feature of
society. It is the sociological imagination that seeks to explain social processes, the nature
of our traps and the underlying structural factors that give rise to them.
Mills argues that to understand individual experiences, we have to look beyond their personal
circumstances. We have to examine the structures of society by looking at those social institutions
which reach into personal circumstances, and shape individuals 'troubles'. Many 'personal troubles'
can only be fully understood by examining broader 'public issues'. This means being aware of social
structure and to trace the links between the wider society and the lives of individuals. '
Sociology aims to study the structure of society at the same time as individuals live. And this is
called 'social imagination':
- structures include material constraints (economic resources and class position) as well as
cultural ones (including gender roles, ethnic values and state regulations); and
- agents and individuals pursue ultimate concerns, life projects, commitments and human
needs and have emotional feelings (including the family concern, professional goals and
passions for music and cooking).
Mills argues that the sociological imagination allows people to understand their 'private
troubles' in terms of 'public issues'.
e.g., unemployment, war and marital breakdown are all experienced by people in terms of
problems they produce in their personal lives.
Æ however these issues can only be fully understood in the context of wider social forces;
unemployment rate may be increasing in society so that it becomes a public issue.