This essay by Milena Kremakova and myself reflecting on the sociological imagination blog has been reprinted in the Warwick Sociology Journal, having been floating around the internet for a while. It’s a slightly strange beast, equal parts reflective case study and C Wright Mills fanboyism:
Mills saw the promise of sociology as being undermined by this quest for status and the sclerotic forms of expression he saw associated with it, with sociologists prone to ‘stereotyped ways of writing which do away with the full experience by keeping them detached throughout their operations’ almost as if ‘they are deadly afraid to take chance of modifying themselves in the process of their work’ (Mills, 2001: 111). He saw this failure of vision and expression in what could almost be construed as epochal terms, representing a failure of sociological imagination at precisely the moment when this distinctive sensibility was most needed. Mills was, in many ways, estranged from the academic establishment and this was, in part, both cause and a consequence of his critique. This estrangement gave him a degree of intellectual freedom from the cultural norms prevalent within the professional sociology of his day and this was in turn entrenched by the manner in which he employed that freedom to pull apart many of the orthodoxies which he saw as so inimical to his understanding of sociology’s promise.