SCS1001

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A. C.Wright Mills
Left-wing
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A1. 'New Men of Power' (1948)
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A2. 'White Collar' (1951)
Insurance, banking developing
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A3. 'The Power Elite' (1956)
The people who pull the strings in society
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A4. 'The Sociological Imagination' (1959)
Draw together the things he had been looking at. "The sociological imagination enables its possessor to understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external career of a variety of individuals". (C. Wright
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B. Critique of sociology
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B1. Opposition to 'grand theory'
So big you can't understand it. "Among what I shall call Grand Theorists, conceptions have indeed become Concepts." (Mills, C. Wright)
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B2. Attack on 'abstracted empiricism'
Narrow conclusions - don't relate to the rest of society
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B3. Suspicion of sceptical philosophies of science
Suspicious that sociology is a science. "Much that has passed for 'science' is now felt to be dubious philosophy; much that is held to be 'real science' is often felt to provide only confused fragments of the realities among which men live." (Mills)
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B4. Hostility to being driven by practical concerns
Didn't want sociologists to be employed by politicians
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B5. Resistance to bureaucratisation in universities and elsewhere
Sociology could be what resists this. "Everywhere in the overdeveloped world, the means of authority and of violence become total in scope and bureaucratic in form." (Mills, C. Wright)
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C. Proposal for how to do it
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C1. Explore and interpret the full spectrum of human diversity
Pay attention to detail
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C2. Recognise historical situatedness
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C3. Embrace a spirit of reason: argument and evidence
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C4. Admit this is necessarily a political enterprise
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C5. Adopt a crafts-manlike mentality: care, rigour, attention to detail
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C6. Be honest!
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C7. Write as clearly and simply as possible
Avoid jargon and difficult sentences - on this point he failed
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D. A Definition of Sociology
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D1. The relationship between public issues and private troubles
I.e. government policies and our feelings/anxieties/obstacles are bound together. "Many great public issues as well as many private troubles are described in terms of 'the psychiatric' - often, it seems, in a pathetic attempt to avoid large issues"
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D2. Seeing each in the context of the other: about connections
"Seldom aware of the intricate connection between the patterns of their own lives and the course of world history, ordinary men do not usually know what this connection means for the kinds of men they are becoming" (Mills, C. Wright)
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E. Other ways of formulating the definition
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E1. History and biography
"They do not possess the quality of mind essential to grasp the interplay of man and society, of biography and history, of self and world. (Mills, C. Wright)
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E2. Social structure and everyday milieu
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F. The birth of the discipline (recap)
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F1. Industrialisation
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F2. The transition from feudalism to capitalism
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F3. Urbanisation
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F4. Migration
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F5. Protestantism
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F6. Secularisation
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F7. Democracy and the start of individual citizenship.
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G. Where are we now?
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G1. Rapid technological change, especially around networks.
Mobile communications.
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G2. Digital mobile communication
Smartphones
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G5. Globalisation
Is it a good thing?
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G7. Crises in social, political and economic life
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H. How are these connections made?
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H1. The media
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H2. National and local politics, the 'public sphere'
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H3. Experiences of the consequences of policy
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H4. Grass-roots organisations, protest and mobilisation
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H5. Access to communication technologies
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I. On academic language
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I1. On Talcott Parsons
He hated Talcott Parsons
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I2. On Erving Goffman
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.

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A1. 'New Men of Power' (1948)

Card 3

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Insurance, banking developing

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Card 4

Front

The people who pull the strings in society

Back

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Card 5

Front

Draw together the things he had been looking at. "The sociological imagination enables its possessor to understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external career of a variety of individuals". (C. Wright

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