Outline the Concept of Alienation

Topics: Karl Marx, Capitalism, Marxism Pages: 2 (516 words) Published: November 18, 2010
In 1844 the Sociological thinker Karl Marx produced works on his theory of Alienation. His theories were based upon his observations of industrial production processes under capitalist rule. Marx explains that human self-alienation is the process by which man becomes separated from himself and becomes a mere commodity in a system where relationships exist on an inhumane, machine-like level. For Marx, this estrangement or alienation occurs on three main levels. The first, man as alienated from the product of his own work; the second from the act of producing; and finally, from his own social nature. A fourth and fifth level may also be included, these being include alienation from one’s fellow men and women and alienation from the physical world itself. Man is Alienated from the product of his own work because he no longer creates objects in their entirety. Before capitalism, man would produce an object from start to finish, he himself creating each element of the final product and thus being able to see part of himself in his accomplishment. Under capitalist rule, however, the worker no longer creates the entire product, but only parts no longer seeing himself within the product of his labour. Marx argues that the more man produces under capitalism and the more wealth he generates, the poorer he becomes in the fact that the more alienated he becomes from himself as a human being. Alienation from the system of production means separation from the way in which the production system is designed. Capitalism focuses on the maximization of production rather than on work itself and therefore, according to Marx, it is impossible to attain self-realization and develop the many facets of one’s personality in the work place. “The worker only feels himself outside his work, and in his work feels outside himself. He is at home when he is not working, and when he is working he is not at home.” (Karl Marx) Finally, man is also alienated from his own society, from his...
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