C. Wright Mills was an American sociologist and intellectual who lived from 1916 to 1962. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in 20th-century sociology. Mills is known for his critical approach to the social sciences and his analysis of the power structures and social hierarchies that shape society.
Mills was highly critical of the dominant and often uncritical methodologies and perspectives in sociology. He argued for a more holistic and critical approach to studying society, emphasizing the importance of connecting personal troubles with broader social issues.
According to Mills, individuals experience personal troubles – such as unemployment, low wages, or family difficulties – that are often perceived as isolated problems. However, he believed that these personal troubles are actually rooted in wider social structures and power dynamics. Mills coined the term "the sociological imagination" to describe the ability to understand the relationship between personal experiences and broader social conditions.
In his seminal work, "The Power Elite," Mills examined the concentration of political, economic, and military power in the hands of a small ruling elite. He argued that this elite controlled key institutions and decision-making processes, thereby shaping the course of society. This analysis highlighted the power imbalances and inequalities present in capitalist societies.
Overall, C. Wright Mills' scholarship and sociological theories focused on critiquing and understanding power structures and their impact on society. His work continues to be highly influential and is still widely studied today.