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This inversion happens when they shift their views from being the victim of massive, swift historical and social forces, to views that are in essence more positive, and in a way empowering. The so-called “sociological imagination”, as Mills asserts, allows for this inversion. Sociological imagination allows for a way to link the deeply interior aspects of the lives of people, and their most intimate and private joys, concerns and intuitions, with a larger, more expansive context. This context is sociology, the society, and the forces that prevail in society and history. Biology and personal history are linked to the larger historical contexts to which the person is born. Those are the contexts within which the person lives out his or her apportioned time in life. The sociological imagination, as Mills states it, is that which allows the person to forge this internal to external link, and make sense of his place within that. Biography, as personal history, is tied intimately to social history. Mills situates the discussion in the context of some vital questions. One is with regard to the structure of the society that the person finds himself in. Two is with regard to the standing of that particular society within the larger context of human history. Three is with regard to the characteristics of the people who thrive in that society, and judging from how society will evolve moving forward, the characteristics of the people who are likely to thrive in that society in the future. Tied to this, just by what social forces, and how, are such successful people formed, and what are the dynamics of that formation? (Mills). Mills demonstrates the kind of thinking that goes into the sociological imagination in the paper. This is through a discussion on the distinction that such imagination makes between troubles, which are in the private sphere, and issues, which are in the public, social sphere. When a few people are unemployed, then the dynamics of that fall within the realm of troubles, to be dealt according to that private context. On the other hand, where unemployment is chronic and widespread, then that begins to fall within the embrace of issues, and is dealt within the wider context of the society. Mills applies sociological imagination perspectives to war as well, and to metropolitan areas. For instance, Deep within the larger issues and problems of city infrastructure are the private concerns of people tied to their houses, private spaces. There is this separation between private and public city spaces, each with its own perspectives and issues. The person with the appropriate sociological imagination is able to thrive and operate sanely within this context, because of a mental attitude that allows for being able to live with the separation of spheres (Mills). The sociological imagination, according to Mills, basically provides a way for us to comprehend what it takes for people to adapt successfully within society. The way I see it, what Mills is saying is that the successful people in a society are those that are able to possess and internalize that society's way of working. It is social smarts in other words, but not in the sense of superficially being adept in social inter-person interactions. Though that is important in itself,
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