What Does It Mean To Be Alienated? Sociology And Theory Essay

1694 words - 7 pages

Sociology 200; Theory and Society
Nadia Badsha, 774707570
Sociology 200; Theory and Society
Nadia Badsha, 774707570
What does it mean to be alienated?
Karl Marx, influenced by the Hegelians, explicitly describes alienation as “Entfremdung”[footnoteRef:1], a type of human estrangement. Alienation is said to separate an individual from their humanity; a consequence afflicted through the conditions of Capitalism. The capitalist production process turns the potentially creative and satisfying aspect of human labour into an alien force.[footnoteRef:2] Marx identified and defined four types of alienation, alienation from the object of labour, from the act of labour, from our “species-being” and from each other. While Marxist ideas were written and revolutionized in the 19th Century, his social theories remain deeply important today. We still live in a Capitalist society and conform to capitalist ideas on a daily basis. With the help of Marx, the ideas and problems of alienation are brought to light. [1: Bloch, Ernst, Anne Halley, and Darko Suvin. ""Entfremdung, Verfremdung": Alienation, Estrangement." The Drama Review: TDR 15, no. 1 (1970): 120-25. ] [2: Joseph, J. 2006. Marxism and Social Theory. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillian. Page 9.]
Workers find themselves confronted with the powers of their own essence, in the form of alien objects. [footnoteRef:3] Alienation from products mean, that what is produced, by the worker holds objectified power over them, the final product is not enjoyed by the worker himself but by the capitalist. The worker slaves away and invests his or her self into making a product that is not beneficial to them, and is then exploited. They are given money as a subsidy for their ‘hard work’, when in reality they are only paid for the exchange-value of the commodity, not the true value. Sadly, this Marxist idea of alienation is still prevalent today. We see examples of this in third-world countries, the cases of Indian garment workers provides an illustrative example of alienation and exploitation of workers. In 2016, it was recorded that in Bangalore over 1200 factories with about 500,000 workers worked under extreme conditions and were only given a monthly wage of about 4000 rupees, [footnoteRef:4] which adds up to about $85 NZD. These poverty-stricken workers are heavily taken advantage of, they are paid less than the value they create. They put their concrete labour in to making garments that they can’t afford or use themselves, and are thus alienated by the garments. The worker places their life in the object, but it does not belong to them. The more objects the worker produces, the fewer he can possess and the more he falls under the domination of his product, of capital.[footnoteRef:5] The garments control the workers because there is no passion or goal behind the process of making these clothes, it is merely done for survival. [3: Joseph, J. 2006. Marxism and Social Theory. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillian. Page 1...


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