The Sociological Imagination

The Sociological Imagination Glossary


One of Mills’s “structures of domination,” in which people comply with authority because of violence or threat of violence.


With a capital "C," the Concept is what Mills says “grand theorists” are too attached to, a big idea that explains everything.


A type of social integration in which many orders of institutions are organized by another order of institutions. For instance, the economy might organize politics, family, the military, etc.


A type of social integration in which orders of institutions are relatively independent and have their own hierarchies they organize themselves. For instance, the military has a hierarchy of officers that is distinct from a church’s hierarchy of clergymen.


A set of ideas, images, and values that can influence how people relate to authority. For instance, liberalism is an ideology; those influenced by a liberal ideology may not support an illiberal government.


An organization with a set of social roles. For instance, the institution of the family is defined by roles like mother, father, and child.


How the institutions in a society are related to one another.


In contrast to private “troubles,” issues are public concerns related to crises in institutions.


A form of social domination in which people do not realize they are being controlled.


With a capital "M," Method is what Mills says abstract empiricists are obsessed with. Their primary method is polling.


The immediate relations a man has, such as his friends and immediate family.


A grouping of related institutions. For instance, the institutions of the Republican and Democratic parties are both part of the order of politics.


A use to which social science can be put. For instance, social science can be used to make bureaucracies more efficient.


A highly individualistic approach to science that pays more attention to private lives instead of public issues or social structures.


The process of making things more orderly and efficient. This is usually applied to bureaucracies.

Social control

A means of maintaining the status quo through coercion.

Social equilibrium

The relative stability of a society, characterized by its ability to maintain the status quo.

Social Structure

The integration of a society’s institutions.


A means of maintaining the status quo by providing education and ideologies that people learn to accept and mimic.


In contrast to public “issues,” private troubles are crises within an individual’s life.