The sociological imagination is the ability to look at the everyday world and understand how it operates in order to make sense of their lives. It is a state of mind, which enables us to think critically about and understand the society in which we live, and our place in that world as individuals and as a whole. C. Wright Mills, first wrote of the concept in 1959. His understanding of it being that it was "a quest for sociological understanding" involving "a form of consciousness for understanding social processes." It is a way for a person to look at their life as a result of their interaction with society. It can explain why a life is lived the way it is and all events, decisions, successes, and failures that have occurred. Further more it enables us to understand the relationship between private troubles and public issues.
Only by understanding how society affects us as individuals can we ever hope to change society effectively.
A classical approach to sociological imagination is understood has having the ability to recognise the relationship between history and biography within society. This is the basis of Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx and Max Weber. This focus generally sets out to answer three questions. What is the structure of a particular society as a whole? Where does this society stand in human history? What kind of human nature is revealed in this society? In answering these questions they hope to comprehend what is going on in the world and what is happening to the individual as a part of the intersection between biography and history within society.
Contemporary analysis has developed upon the classical approach in that it attempts to put the understanding into practical use. Anthony Giddens sees the sociological imagination...