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New Left Review I/21, October 1963


Michael Rustin

The Relevance of Mills’ Sociology

C. Wright Mills’ sociology attempted to explain the structure and main drift of American society in the twentieth century, and with that some of the main trends in all industrialized societies. It was a huge aim, in the central tradition of sociology and social thought. His main theses, the centralization of power in the United States, and the bureaucratization of its institutions and life, are built on the conceptions of Max Weber’s sociology. Mills’ distinctive focus was on the collapse of the original democratic ideal of the United States, under pressure of institutional changes, into a mere liberal rhetoric. These democratic values, Mills said, could not be realized within the present social structure.

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