The public and private in C. Wright Mills's life and work

John David Brewer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Charles Wright Mills revitalized sociology's focus on the public-private distinction and this article offers a biographical reading of these writings by locating them in the turmoil of his private life. The article thus looks at the public-private distinction as it manifested in the public writings and private life of one of the major theorists of this theme. Its central argument is that we need to reposition Mills's intellectual biography by locating it spatially, for his sociological writings on this theme were heavily influenced by the 'spaces of selfhood' within which he lived and worked. This connects intellectual biography with the spatial turn in sociology. The purpose of such intellectual biography, however, is not merely to fill in the background of a sociologist's life, but to provide materials that take us to the centre of the sociological enterprise itself. It is argued that Mills's 'spaces of selfhood' are a medium into understanding his whole vision of sociology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-677
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005


  • C.Wright Mills
  • intellectual biography
  • public-private
  • space
  • sociological imagination
  • Mills, C. Wright
  • Mills, CW


Dive into the research topics of 'The public and private in C. Wright Mills's life and work'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this