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C. Mills Wright

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Essay title: C. Mills Wright

C. Wright Mills

Charles Wright Mills was a social scientist and a “merciless critic of ideology”. Mills was born to Charles Grover and Frances Ursula Wright Mills on August 28, 1916, in Waco, Texas. Mills was brought up in a strict Catholic home, but he rebelled against Christianity in his late adolescence. Mills discovered his interest in architecture and engineering when he graduated from Dallas Technical High School in 1934. From 1934 to 1935, Mills attended Texas A&M. Here he found himself extremely dissatisfied. Mills decided to transfer to the University of Texas in 1935. This is where he evolved into an extraordinary student. By 1939, Mills was graduating with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in philosophy. He then attended the University of Wisconsin where he began studying Max Weber. In 1941, he received his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin. Mills’ interests were “social stratification and the moral role of the intellectual.”

Mills first academic position was located at the University of Maryland. It lasted approximately four years. Directly after leaving Maryland, Mills joined the Columbia University Labor Research Division of the Bureau of Applied Social Research. Although Mills was promoted to be an assistant professor at Columbia after only a year, it took ten more years before Mills was advanced to be a full professor. Between the time Mills was an assistant professor and a full professor, he was offered other positions. He refused them simply because of his belief that New York City was the core of United States intellectual activity. Mills taught sociology at Columbia University for the majority of his academic career. Mills longed to progress the science of sociology in order to give us a wider understanding of how society worked, but from the late 1940s Mills remained a close student of social movements. During his life, Mills had many prominent works … New Men of Power: America’s Labor Leaders, White Collar:

The American Middle Classes, The Power Elite, The Sociological Imagination,

Sociology and Pragmatism, The Puerto Rican Journey: New York’s Newest Immigrants ,

Character and Social Structure: The Psychology of Social Institutions , The Causes of World War III ,The Images of Man.

Mills remained a nonconformist both personally and intellectually throughout his life time. Mills was married four times. In 1937, he married Dorothy Helen James. During there short marriage, they had one daughter and divorced in 1940. By 1941, Mills was remarried with a second daughter on the way. Six years later, he was divorced again, and ready to move on to his third wife, Ruth Harper. Mills was married to Harper for twelve years before they divorced. Mills final wife was Yaroslava Surmach, the mother of Mills’ only son. Mills was also an active member of the American Sociological Society, serving as vice president from 1947 to 1948. During the last two years of his life, Mills became a public figure. “His tracts against cold War and the U. S. Latin American policy were more widely read than any other radical.” As his popularity grew, his Listen, Yankee was featured on the cover of Harpers Magazine. As he was preparing for a television network debate, he suffered a heart attack in December 1960. On March 20, 1962, Mills passed away in Nyack, New York. He died of heart disease. He was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in New York.

While most sociologists chose the least controversial topics and constantly wrote similar articles and books, Mills ranged over historical, cultural, political, social, and psychological areas. He was interested in the “labor and radical movements”, and he wrote frequently on this subjects. He created some of the most insightful critiques of systems of government.

Mills identified five overarching social problems:

· Alienation

· Moral insensibility

· Threats to democracy

· Threats to human freedom

· Conflict between bureaucratic rationality and human reason

He created some of the most insightful critiques of systems of government. In addition to the scholarly works that Mills wrote, he produced many pamphlets. At that time, this was the style of a “public intellectual”. His pamphlets upset many of his colleagues; and some academic circles discredited his works referring to Mills as only a “mere journalist.” These facts plus his attacks on the big themes of social theory and analysis resulted in his major works no longer read in social science classrooms. His works had vanished

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