Note: Charles Wright Mills was an influential American sociologist whose work concerned itself not only with the American power structure and elites, but also with the responsibilities of postwar intellectuals. His advocacy of political engagement over disinterested observation had a profound impact on the coming 1960's "New Left" student movement. Mills' books "The Sociological Imagination " examined the role between biography and history, theory and method in sociological scholarship (1959)and "The Power Elite" (1956) which examined the structures of power and class in the United States.
In addition to writing the above mentioned titles, he authored the books "The New Men of Power: America's Labor Leaders (1946), "From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology" co-edited with Hans Gerth (1946); "White Collar: The American Middle Classes" (1951); "Character and Social Structure" (1953); "Listen Yankee: The Revolution in Cuba" (1960); and "The Marxists" (1962) as well contributing to the journal "Politics" edited by Dwight Macdonald. Mills was believed to have coined the term "New Left" in his 1960 open letter entitled "Letter to the New Left".
Three months after his death, "The Port Huron Statement" (1962) was introduced at the founding meeting of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). "The Port Huron Statement" was a manifesto calling for college students nationwide to take action against institutionalized apathy and hypocrisy by engaging in participatory democracy. The Statement was principally written by SDS founder Tom Hayden who was deeply influenced by Mills while studying at the University of Michigan.
Mills received his Ph.D from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was a faculty member at Columbia University from 1946 until his death at age 45 in 1962 of a fatal heart attack.
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