Workers in capitalism, alienation of workers in capitalism, James W. Rinehart

Topics: Working class, Social class, Marxism Pages: 6 (2097 words) Published: October 29, 2008
According to James W. Rinehart in The tyranny of Work: Alienation and the Labour Process, work is a primary activity for human beings that differentiates human from other forms of life and today adults spend at least one-third of their waking hours on the job, which has great impact on personality of those who perform it (Rinehart 171). Quoting from Russell, there are two kinds of work according to professor Conlin. First type of work is the one where you alter the position of matter, which is unpleasant, ill-paid and dangerous. Second type of work involved you telling others to move matter, which is pleasant, well paid and safe. Although I never had a privilege to perform the second type of work, I had a chance to experience the first type of work at Mac Donald's. As Russell said, first type of work, which I experienced was definitely unpleasant, ill-paid and dangerous. I worked under unpleasant working condition with no benefits, constantly forced work more than five days a week, including the weekends. My job at Mac Donald involved basically everything, from cashier to cooking to cleaning. At first, I felt sense of pride because I was able to perform many different tasks at any given situation. However it turned out that I was spending too much time at work. Since I was able to perform many jobs, management constantly forced me to work more days with less or no break and even on holidays. I was making government regulated minimum wage of some where between six to seven dollars per hour. When I got home from work, I would be so tired that I was not able to do anything but to recover for the next day of work. Also I started to fall behind in school and I spent less time with my friends and family. Work at Mac Donald's became a large portion of life and it started to penetrate into my personal life. According to Rinehart, "What people do during work hours often penetrate to the core of their personalities. Work became an activity that takes large portion of time that spills over into non-work spheres of life." (Rinehart 171). However I could not quit because of that "sweet" pay cheque that I got every two weeks. Then I realized that I was deeply involved and a part of Capitalism. The purpose of this paper is to relate my working experience at Mac Donald's to Rinehart's argument in respect to relationship between work and alienation. According to Rinehart, who quoted Karl Marx, there are four type of alienation. A condition in which workers are alienated from the product they create, a condition in which workers are alienated from work process, a condition in which workers are alienated from themselves and finally, a condition in which workers are alienated from others. These four types of alienation will be further analyze and related as I disclose my working experience at Mac Donald's.

First type of alienation is a condition in which workers are alienated from the products they create. This was extremely true in relation to my experience at Mac Donald's. Everything that I was producing was coordinated by management, owner and Mac Donald's, since it is a franchise. A machine dumped certain amount of fries into basket, which was placed into a fryer that had a timer. Burgers were cooked on a grill that had timer. Certain amounts of sauces were dispensed from a saucer machine and certain amounts of drinks were poured into cups by machines. Every process in preparing a meal was done through machines. The quality, contents and quantity was not determined by those whose labour is responsible for preparing a meal because the ends of capitalist production are not defined by the needs and interest of workers but by employers' needs to generate profits and expand capital (Rinehart 177). Even though I was earning income through the process I could not feel sense of pride and accomplishment.

Another alienation that Rinehart discusses is a condition in which workers are alienated from the work process. Workers are cede their...

Bibliography: Bell, Daniel. The cultural Contradictions of Capitalism. Basic Books. 1976-Heilbroner, Robert. Twenty-First Century Capitalism. House of Anansi Press Inc. Toronto: 1992.
-Rinehart, W. James. The Tyranny of Work: Alienation and the Labour Process. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 1987.
-Thompson, P. Edward. Making of the English Working Class. Penguin Books. Canada: 1968.
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