chapter  5
46 Pages

Beyond Sociological Imagination: The Controversy with C. Wright Mills over Power and Knowledge

Some essays in Sociology in America1 declare Parsons a bore and C. Wright Mills a revelation. Craig Calhoun, in his introduction, denounces Parsons’s structural functionalism but hails Mills for inspiring the student movement in the 1960s to condemn contemporary capitalism.2 George Steinmetz, looking at sociology before and after World War II,3 places Parsons (that is, sociology out of Harvard) in the Cold War when Mills was being shunned: “Cold War anticommunism … played a role in convincing some sociologists to embrace the ‘value-free’ ethos and in marginalizing people like C. Wright Mills who retained a political commitment to the ‘wrong’ side.”4 Subsequently, however, “after the 1960s and 1970s with the turning point against ‘political correctness’,” Mills would be acknowledged, and Parsons marginalized instead.