What is a summary of "The Promise" by C. Wright Mills?


Quick Answer

C. Wright Mills "promise" is the promise of sociological imagination, which he saw as the ability to view individual experience, history and currently unfolding events as a synergistic whole. He believed that ordinary people feel trapped by life circumstances because they lack the ability to view their lives in this way.

Continue Reading

Full Answer

"The Promise," is the first chapter in C. Wright Mills' 1959 book "The Sociological Imagination," which discusses the impact of change on men and women living in 20th-century society. Wright's book contends that most men and women are unable to comprehend the effect that monumental sociological and cultural changes have on their lives. Wright believed that ordinary people are too caught up in mundane events to possess the quality of mind necessary to grasp biography and history and the relationship between the two within society. Further, he believed that this lack of understanding contributes directly to a social order that promotes the growth of vast bureaucracies, which places an extraordinary amount of power in the hands of a small group of elites. He identified five main problems of American society; they are alienation, moral insensibility, threats to democracy, threats to human freedom and conflict between bureaucratic rationality and human reason.

In Wright's view, the promise of sociological imagination is rooted in the social sciences. He believed that the role of the scholar is to recognize the difference between the personal troubles of individual members of society and the overarching issues that effect society as a whole. In his view, the promise of social imagination is the ability to integrate these two spheres of the human experience into a social order based on reason, intelligence and good will toward all.

Learn more about Classics

Related Questions