General Introduction

We have written Imagining Society to speak both to students who are new to sociology and to readers who are familiar with it. The book develops four lines of argument.

First, it introduces you to themes, concepts and scholars that are central to sociology, from the beginnings of the discipline in the 18th century all the way to the present.

Second, as much as possible in a relatively short book, it does so from a global perspective that draws attention to perspectives and experiences of social life beyond Europe and Anglophone North America.

Third, it situates sociology as a form of knowledge in its institutional setting of universities and sociologists who work at universities. We suggest that this is important in so far as the shape that sociological knowledge takes is closely bound up with the ways in which sociologists may work, for the most part at universities, in different places and periods of time.

Fourth, we suggest that sociology is inevitably political, as it speaks to public debates and current affairs, and we make a case for a public sociology that is relevant to both academia and public life.

In attempting all this, our point of departure is the notion of the sociological imagination, a distinctive, sociologically informed way of looking at the world, as proposed by the sociologist C. Wright Mills in a book of the same title.

This website acts as a companion to the book in two ways. First, it offers additional material, in the form of case studies, examples and a repository of useful sources of information, to complement the content of the book. Second, through case studies and sociologically informed commentary on current affairs, we highlight the contemporary importance of the sociological imagination and draw attention to the ways in which sociological knowledge may inform our understanding of current social patterns, processes and problems.

This website will be updated regularly, so be sure to come back frequently!