Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 5, No 2 (2009)

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The Sociological Imagination and Its Promise Fifty Years Later

Carlos Frade


This paper offers a restatement of Wright Mills’ The Sociological Imagination and tries to judge whether its promise can be credibly renewed today by addressing the question about the present and future possibilities of the social sciences as free forms of enquiry. Relying on Weber, Mills and other thinkers, the paper sustains that the possibilities for a truly free social science essentially depend on three major ‘conditions’: the subjective stance or vocation, the sociological imagination proper, and an independent social science politics, conditions whose apt names can also be ‘love’, ‘insight’ and ‘courage’. An analysis of the presence and strength of each of these conditions in contemporary social science and in academia shows the magnitude of the task faced for the existence of a free social science.

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