When Did We Stop Using Our Sociological Imagination?

C. Wright Mills would be turning in his grave

Alexandra Walker-Jones
5 min readMar 27, 2021


If someone were to quickly do a google search for the definition of Sociology it’s most likely they would come across a great variety of subject matter. The study of… “ the development, structure, and functioning of human society,” or, “human social relationships and institutions,” or even, “the organization of societal values and behavior,” just to name a few.

Even to someone well versed in the general terms of social science, there is a lot of new and unfamiliar ground to be covered. Safe to say, this begs the question of how one might go about studying sociology, or, even better — how one should.

In 1959, an American sociologist by the name of Charles Wright Mills answered this question through the publication of his book, “The Sociological Imagination.”

In his book, he describes the Sociological Imagination as a way of thinking and questioning the world, and argues that it is the only valid way to engage in discussions about social issues — whether that might be political, humanitarian, environmental, or other.

To grasp the sociological imagination is to have an understanding of the relationship between the individual and the society they live in, as well as the historical context that their current place in society is dependent on.

Mills emphasizes the importance of this viewpoint when studying sociology as, “neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both.”

In other words, not only is it ill-advised to separate the two — it’s fundamentally impossible; the individual does not exist independent of their environment, and the environment does not exist in isolation from the individuals and the systems within it.

Modern day sociology, however, has an incorrect tendency to view the current state of society as a reflection of current events, rather than examining the historical processes of how it came to be in these circumstances.

The sociological imagination, on the other hand, uncovers the relationship between the individual and their place in society as well as the historical implications that put…



Alexandra Walker-Jones

Content writer and published author in the plant-based health and wellness sphere. I’m just here to learn! awalkerjones.com