1) What ‘quality of mind’ is necessary to have a sociological imagination as Mills supposes, and what is required to attain this ‘quality of mind’?
Mills explains that the quality of mind necessary to achieving a sociological imagination is one that can “grasp the interplay of man and society, of biography and history, of self and world.” In essence, mills makes clear that, in his view, a sophisticated world-view that can seen both through the individual self and through a world view is required in order to attain a sociological imagination with which one may affect change in the sociological system. Mills claims that though society has evolved and its people take on roles with new tasks and new names, that people still play essentially the same roles. “When societies become industrialized, a peasant becomes a worker; a feudal lord is liquidated or becomes a businessman.” Here Mills asserts that either individuals keep up with the changing social structures in order to maintain their way of life, or they are lowered to the lowest social class until they can work their way through the established system again. To me, this quality of mind that Mills promotes is one of a good leader. One who can see the bigger picture and can understand the individual’s role.
2) What is an ‘ethical’ or ‘virtuous’ person? And are we doing a better job now than before?
Managing Business Ethics describes a virtuous person as one who “balance prudence (mature self-love), strict justice, and benevolence.” It goes on to say, “ideal societies are comprised of such persons.” Later it goes on to say that not only do ethical business practices better companies, it is “absolutely essential for effective business practice.” With this is mind, we must then ask, with all the media ethics has gotten recently, are our country’s institutions doing a better job of creating more ethical persons? One can point to a decline in religious affiliation, especially among the youth, to suggest that we are not. On the other hand, one may suggest that such institutions, though the grounding for much of the west’s past morals, are not the only teachers of ethics. With this decline in religious ethics, educational institutions have, at least in part, enhanced their ethical education. Furthermore, more companies today have enhanced their ethical considerations as they have started realizing that sustainable business practices, are ethical business practices.
3) Is it practical for all individuals to develop a sociological imagination? Would society function?
Mills suggests that what people need, in order to avoid the “traps” of our current sociological system, is a sociological imagination. While I agree, our society evolves primarily through the efforts of such people with sociological imaginations, I would argue that every leader needs a follower. You cannot be a shepherd without sheep to shepherd. Similarly, a society cannot be stable and productive if all its members are all equally able to affect changes to the system. This is why the United States of America has one president and a limited number of representatives in Congress. When the rules of society are cast aside by all in society, only chaos ensues.