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C.W. Mills' notion of the 'social milieu' and its relevance for contemporary society


Jacobs, K and Malpas, J, C.W. Mills' notion of the 'social milieu' and its relevance for contemporary society, Thesis Eleven, 172, (1) pp. 166-181. ISSN 1461-7455 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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© 2022. The Authors.

DOI: doi:10.1177/0725513622113321


In Mills’ sociological analysis, a central notion is the ‘social milieu’ which encapsulates ‘the social setting of a person that is directly open to his personal experience’. For Mills, sociology should entail an investigation of the set of relations and practices that are a feature of human experience. Understanding the significance of Mills’ approach, we argue, requires grasping the way the notion of ‘milieu’ or ‘setting’ itself draws upon spatial and topological notions – notions that have become prominent in much contemporary sociological thinking. From this perspective, Mills’ work turns out to be relevant as a corrective, both to the undue emphasis on empirical particularity that is evident in some contemporary sociology and to what Mills viewed as ‘abstract’ theorisation. A large part of the relevance of Mills’ work for contemporary sociological problems and challenges is thus to be found in the way his emphasis on situation (or ‘place’), as given through the idea of ‘milieu’, allows a more complex and encompassing approach.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:place, social theory, space, topology and politics
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Social theory
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Community services
Objective Field:Social class and inequalities
UTAS Author:Jacobs, K (Professor Keith Jacobs)
UTAS Author:Malpas, J (Professor Jeff Malpas)
ID Code:154078
Year Published:2022
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2022-10-27
Last Modified:2022-11-21

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