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The Grand Theory

Charles Wright Mills was one of the greatest American sociologists of the 20th century and a talented writer. As a sociologist, he was influenced by the ideas of Max Weber and Karl Mannheim. His major works are Power Elite, White Collar: The American Middle Classes, The Causes of World War Three, The Marxists, The Sociological Imagination, and others.

Mills was the theoretical opponent of the dominant directions of abstract theories and mundane empiricism in American sociology. Mills believed that the big theory of Parsons and empirical sociology of Lazarsfeld does not justify the hopes placed in them, because they are either smothered in abstractions or in the facts.

Mills offers to return to the methodological tradition of the sociological classic era of Comte, Spencer, and Weber that allowed perceiving and explaining social life and a social man as a whole. In his quest to revive the spirit of high classics in sociology and give an opportunity for the sociological theory to rely on the fundamental and universal moral values, Mills stands as a forerunner of postmodernism. That huge social and historical experience, which is inherent to social thought, should enter the modern sociological theory in the form of installation on deep historical vision of each particular problem.

Mills is opposed to the grand theory and abstract empiricism. He was concerned that if these styles of research would become dominant or even occupy a monopoly position in the intellectual field, they would pose a serious threat to the social sciences. Mills declared a war that was taking root in American sociology styles of scientific research, taking on the role of champion of a return to the classical tradition.

By the grand theory Mills understood a formal sterile theorizing, estranged from reality and history, that comes down to the multiplication of concepts and endless manipulation and, ultimately, is nothing more than an awkward stilted nonsense.

Mills examines a famous work of Talcott Parsons Social System as the most striking example of the grand theory, by offering to reduce this bewitching work of delightful incomprehensibility of 555 pages to 150 pages, translating it into intelligible English. Mills quips that 50% of the grand theory presented in Parsons’s book is a simple set of words, 40% are excerpts from well-known textbooks on sociology, and only 10% can get a rather vague political use. Moreover, Mills can explain it in just two or three sentences, as follows: We are asking: what are the foundations of social order? The answer, apparently, is that common values.

Charles Wright Mills was one of the greatest American sociologists of the 20th century and a talented writer. As a sociologist, he was influenced by the ideas of Max Weber and Karl Mannheim. His major works are Power Elite, White Collar: The American Middle Classes, The Causes of World War Three, The Marxists, The Sociological Imagination, and others.

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100001253
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CREATED ON
August 27, 2016
COMPLETED ON
August 28, 2016
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$28
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