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Charles Wright Mills

Data de nascimento: 28. Agosto 1916
Data de falecimento: 20. Março 1962

Charles Wright Mills foi um sociólogo norte-americano.Mestre em arte, filosofia e sociologia pela Universidade do Texas, doutorou-se em sociologia e antropologia pela Universidade de Wisconsin. Foi professor de Sociologia das Universidades de Maryland e Columbia.

O autor ficou principalmente conhecido por seu livro A Imaginação Sociológica, publicado originalmente nos EUA em 1959. Nele o autor faz um apelo para que sociólogos não deixem a imaginação e a criatividade de lado, ao exercerem sua profissão, em favor de uma pretensa objetividade e neutralidade do trabalho científico. Para o autor as grandes obras e os grandes intelectuais da história nunca abriram mão de sua reflexividade e criatividade, além de uma postura crítica diante da realidade. Como exemplos de trabalhos intelectuais de sua época, Mills cita O Behemoth de Franz Neumann como obra científica estimulante à reflexão, e a obra de Talcott Parsons como exemplo da tendência cientificista da sociologia de sua época e de linguagem desnecessariamente complicada e inacessível ao grande público.

Uma das críticas de Mills à sociologia era de que esta deveria ser acessível à compreensão do grande público. Esta sua crítica fazia parte de seu argumento maior de que o intelectual deveria manter uma postura crítica e reflexiva diante da realidade, e assim tomar parte nos debates públicos de sua época.

Mills foi leitor atento da obra de Max Weber, tendo editado nos EUA uma compilação de textos deste último, juntamente com Hans H. Gerth, obra que ficou intitulada 'From Max Weber: essays in Sociology' . Nesta obra, Mills e Gerth apresentam uma importante reflexão sobre a obra de Max Weber articulada a um escorço biográfico deste autor.

Para Mills, a racionalidade do mundo ocidental da atualidade não produziu a indispensável libertação do ser humano, já que as principais idelogias desenvolvidas - capitalismo e socialismo - não se mostraram aptas a prever e controlar intensos processos de mudanças sociais.

Citações Charles Wright Mills

„The more we understand what is happening in the world, the more frustrated we often become, for our knowledge leads to feelings of powerlessness.
We feel that we are living in a world in which the citizen has become a mere spectator or a forced actor, and that our personal experience is politically useless and our political will a minor illusion. Very often, the fear of total permanent war paralyzes the kind of morally oriented politics, which might engage our interests and our passions. We sense the cultural mediocrity around us-and in us-and we know that ours is a time when, within and between all the nations of the world, the levels of public sensibilities have sunk below sight; atrocity on a mass scale has become impersonal and official; moral indignation as a public fact has become extinct or made trivial.
We feel that distrust has become nearly universal among men of affairs, and that the spread of public anxiety is poisoning human relations and drying up the roots of private freedom. We see that people at the top often identify rational dissent with political mutiny, loyalty with blind conformity, and freedom of judgment with treason. We feel that irresponsibility has become organized in high places and that clearly those in charge of the historic decisions of our time are not up to them. But what is more damaging to us is that we feel that those on the bottom-the forced actors who take the consequences-are also without leaders, without ideas of opposition, and that they make no real demands upon those with power.“

—  C. Wright Mills

Fonte: Letters & Autobiographical Writings (1954), pp. 184-185.

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„Competition has been curtailed by larger corporations; it has been sabotaged by groups of smaller entrepreneurs acting collectively. Both groups have made clear the locus of liberalism's rhetoric of small business and family farm.The character and ideology of the small entrepreneur and the facts of the market are selling the idea of competition short. These liberal heroes, the small businessmen and the farmer, do not want to develop their characters by free and open competition; they do not believe in competition, and they have been doing their best to get away from it.When the small businessmen are asked whether they think free competition is…a good thing, they answer…, 'Yes, of course—what do you mean?' … Finally: 'How about here in this town in furniture?'—or groceries, or whatever the man's line is. Their answers are of two sorts: 'Yes, if it's fair competition,' which turns out to mean: 'if it doesn't make me compete.' … The small businessman, as well as the farmer, wants to become big, not directly by eating up others like himself in competition, but by the indirect ways means practiced by his own particular heroes—those already big. In the dream life of the small entrepreneur, the sure fix is replacing the open market.But if small men wish to close their ranks, why do they continue to talk…about free competition? The answer is that the political function of free competition is what really matters now…[f]or, if there is free competition and a constant coming and going of enterprises, the one who remains established is 'the better man' and 'deserves to be where he is.' But if instead of such competition, there is a rigid line between successful entrepreneurs and the employee community, the man on top may be 'coasting on what his father did,' and not really be worthy of his hard-won position. Nobody talks more of free enterprise and competition and of the best man winning than the man who inherited his father's store or farm. …… In Congress small-business committees clamored for legislation to save the weak backbone of the national economy. Their legislative efforts have been directed against their more efficient competitors. First they tried to kill off the low-priced chain stores by taxation; then they tried to eliminate the alleged buying advantages of mass distributor; finally they tried to freeze the profits of all distributors in order to protect their own profits from those who could and were selling goods cheaper to the consumer.The independent retailer…has been pushing to maintain a given margin under the guise of 'fair competition' and 'fair-trade' laws. He now regularly demands that the number of outlets controlled by chain stores be drastically limited and that production be divorced from distribution. This would, of course, kill the low prices charged consumers by the A&P;, which makes very small retail profits, selling almost at cost, and whose real profits come from the manufacturing and packaging.…Under the threat of 'ruinous competition,' laws are on the books of many states and cities legalizing the ruin of competition.“

—  C. Wright Mills, livro White Collar: The American Middle Classes

Section One: The Competitive Way of Life.
White Collar: The American Middle Classes (1951)

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