C. Wright Mills

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Early Life

Charles Wright Mills was born August 28, 1916, in Waco Texas. His father, Charles Grover Mills, who's was an insurance agent, and mother, Frances Wright Mills who was a house wife, moved around quit often. Since the family constantly moved (7 times), Charles was often isolated and often didn't make friends. He graduated 1934 from Dallas Technical High School and moved on to be a cadet at the Texas Agricultural & Mechanical college, which he attended from 1934-35. He then transferred to the University of Texas in Austin. From there he received a bachelor of arts degree in sociology and a maters degree in philosophy. When Mills was 23, he left Texas to further his education. He then attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison where he received his Ph.D. in sociology in 1941. While working on his Ph.D., his thesis focused on pragmatism and sociology of knowledge. While Mills was a student, he published two journals; American Sociological Reviewand American Journal Of Sociology. Mills was born during the middle of WWI. He also lived through the New York Stock Market Crash in 1929, which was a jumpstart to the Great Depression during the 1930's. Mills also lived through the second World War from 1939-45.

Mills Timeline

Personal Life

Mills was married four times throughout his life. When he was 21, he married Dorothy Helen Smith. The two divorced after three years of marriage, and then got together again and married a year later in 1941. Their daughter, Pamela, was born in 1943. Four years later, the two divorced for life. In 1947, the same year that Mills divorced Smith, he married Ruth Harper. Harper was a bureau of applied social research at Columbia University. In 1955, the two had a daughter named Kathrine. After Kathrine's birth, the couple separated, and later divorced in 1959. Mills' fourth and final marriage was shared with Yaroslava Surmach, who was an artist. They conceived a son who was born in 1960, named Nikoas. Mills was married to Surmach until his untimely death in 1962. Throughout Mills' life, he developed a poor reputation. He was known to have many affairs, and he also was known to be violent with friends and colleagues. Mills also suffered from a serious heart condition throughout his life. He survived three heart attacks, with the fourth finally taking his life.

Sociological Outlook

Mills was a radical social theorist. He believed knowledge is a crucial element for social change. His research focussed on how society affects people in their every day lives: how they fit into a group, which social "class" they belonged to, and how society affected their problems. He analyzed the connections between individuals and wider society. Mills strongly believed that people's personal problems were not on a personal level, but on a social level. He concluded that even if one may feel like their problems are personal, theoretically, it could be something that is being caused by the society in the community they live in, and therefore is happening to every one else. Thus, personal problems have social roots, and improving people's lives cause for social solutions. One of Mills' famous quotes is It is the political task of the social scientist…to translate personal troubles into public issues.