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Catholic Social Science Review

Volume 10, 2005

Stephen R. Sharkey, Ph.D.
Pages 53-81
DOI: 10.5840/cssr2005104

Beyond Mills’ Sociological Imagination: Using a Pedagogy Based on Sorokin’s Integralism to Reach Today’s Introductory Sociology Students

In this paper I explore some important limitations of the typical pedagogy of introductory sociology based on C. W. Mills `sociological imagination, and suggest a deeper, more effective approach that incorporates the best of Mills’ idea but goes beyond it. Sociology faculty commonly hope that introductory students embrace a type of liberal political ideology embedded in how Mills originally defined the “sociological imagination,” but in today’s classroom one often encounters students for whom this teaching model does not work. I examine what might lay behind students’ seeming rejection of sociological disciplinary messages, a rejection rooted in their experience of a “horizontal” culture. Then I present certain teaching strategies, based on Sorokin’s “integral” sociology, that may assist faculty to more effectively reach students who seek something deeper and more meaningful than political leftism—something that respects and connects and grounds the empirical, the conceptual, and spiritual—but who lack the tools to pursue it because of how sociology has been framed for them.