Charles Wright Mills was one of the most influential radical social theorists and critics in twentieth century America. Here we focus on his connecting of private troubles and public issues; his exploration of power relationships; and his approach to ‘doing’ sociology.
John Elridge has concluded that C. Wright Mills made a significant contribution in three areas.
First, ‘his fusion of American pragmatism and European sociology did lead to innovative work in the sociology of knowledge’.
Second, he completed a substantial range of studies in what was a short working life. Each had its strengths and weaknesses but together they reflect a concern to ‘understand American society and its place in world affairs’.
Last, he provided a considerable and lasting intellectual stimulus to others. We can see his mark in Tom Bottomore’s (1966) exploration of elites and Steven Lukes (1973) seminal discussion of power, for example – and in the work of Alvin Gouldner.