Alienation is one of the terms used in sociology which is often associated with the remoteness or separation from any activity or group. Its roots however, are relatively deeper and the word itself is associated with words such as powerlessness, namelessness, and social isolation as well as the cultural estrangement. Marx however, viewed it from the perspective of capitalist modes of production and the inability of the workers to associate themselves with what they produce. Robert Blauner’s work is considered as one of the important works due to his statistical research performed during 1940’s. Blauner viewed the concept of alienation from the perspective of four different dimensions which are often considered as largely influenced by the work of Marx. Marx critically outlined the concept of social alienation from the perspective of separation of human beings from things which naturally belong with each other. Both Marx and Blauner outlined four different elements or dimensions to discuss alienation. Marx’s Ideas of Alienation Marx’s ideas on alienation are largely based upon the work of Feuerbach who outlined that the idea of God has actually alienated man from the characteristics of human being. Marx took the concept forward and applied the same within the social settings by outlining four different ideas. They are: 1. Workers’ alienation from what he produces because worker is not entitled to determine the features and design of the product which he produces. Marx suggest that it is being done by the capitalists who appoint the actually producer of the commodity. 2. Goods are produced for the profit and not for the social needs thus alienating workers from consuming them or getting the value for their labor. 3. Division of work renders the work as meaningless activity thus reducing work as a tradable commodity rather than considering it as a social effort for survival or betterment. 4. Social relationships of workers and others are replaced with the economic relationships. Blauner’s work One of the important works on alienation and to which every debate on alienation starts is related with the work of Blauner. The main thesis of Blauner’s work is based upon the argument that the overall attitude of workers is an indication of the degree of their alienation within a capitalist mode of production. (Fulcher, and Scott, 2007), Like Marx, he also studies social alienation under four different headings which are: 1. Powerlessness outlining the degree of control workers has on their work. 2. Meaninglessness actually suggests the lack of purpose behind the work and the relative monotony involved in work. 3. Social alienation discusses the overall integration of workers among themselves. 4. Self estrangement outlines as to how much workers actually involve themselves in their work. Blauner’s Characteristics’ Details One of the important characteristics of Blauner’s work is based upon the fact that it is empirical in nature. The use of statistics in the work therefore provided Blauner an empirical insight into the alienation of workers. (Noon, and Blyton, 2007). He primarily performed his studies in printing, textile, car and chemical industry. The details of the characteristics are: Printing Industry Blauner categorized this industry as pre-industrial craft industry and suggested that only 4% of the workers found their work as monotonous and dull. Blauner concluded that the workers in printing industry and their work is not actually objectively alienating and as such the printers have control over their work and they the overall feelings of powerlessness are non existing in workers working in this industry. The overall work situation in the
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Alienation is one of the terms used in sociology which is often associated with the remoteness or separation from any activity or group. Its roots however, are relatively deeper and the word itself is associated with words such as powerlessness, namelessness, and social isolation as well as the cultural estrangement…
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It meant a reduction in the struggle for survival since everyone had a role to play (Woodward 2005). According to Karl Marx, division of labor is negative mainly because it is a product of a capitalistic society. When a person sells their labor to the industry, the private owner of that industry becomes that person’s owner too.
He regarded that it was a product of capitalist production since individuals had happened to be estranged from the set of people, things and events that these individuals were usually accustomed with, however, as an effect of the system in the modern society, their relations to others would be not as deep as the normal.
For Marx, alienation was when an individual had felt the estrangement from his society as well as its other aspects for the reason that the individual could not avoid the losing of such control of their lives because under the capitalist system, he could no longer have the power over his work.
In addition, alienation results from the increasing economic relationships that displaced social relationships. On the other hand, Blauner critically examines the idea of alienation through research, and indentifies four main dimensions of alienation. These are meaninglessness, isolation, powerlessness and self estrangement.
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