Introducing Western Sociologists

Introducing Western Sociologists


Describe main features of the theory of alienation.

Describe main features of the theory of alienation.Main Features of the Theory of Alienation :

1. The history of mankind is characterised by increasing control of man over nature which led to this increasing alienation of man.

2. Alienation has been described by Coser “as a condition in which men are dominated by forces of their own creation, which confront them as alien powers.”

3. The term alienation may be traced to the word ‘alien’ which means ‘foreigner’ and therefore alientaion would mean becoming stranger to one’s own people and the product, etc.

4. In a capitalistic society alienation controls every institutional sphere such as economy, polity and even religion. Of the different kinds of alienation, Karl Marx thinks economic alienation as the most important as it involves human being’s daily activities.

5. Economic alienation involves four aspects : the worker is alienated (i) from the object he produces, (ii) from the process of production, (iii) from himself and (iv) from the community of his fellows.

6. The alienation of worker from the object of his labour as well as from the process of production leads to his alienation from himself and he is unable to fully develop the several aspects of his personality.

7. The worker does not feel easy at his working place. All the time he (or she) thinks that the work he (or she) is doing belongs to another person (i.e., the owner of the factory). The worker puts his/her whole life into the product he produces but the very product becomes alien to him (or her) and strengthens the hands of his (her) exploiters. This leads to a feeling of apathy and indifference towards his/ her work, his (her) own self and his fellow beings.

8. The predicament of worker in industrial society has been further analysed by other Marxist mainly Herbert Marcuse who called this stage of man ‘one dimensional man’.

9. Karl Marx used the expression ‘Cog in a Wheel’ to express the state of worker’s precarious existence in the process of production.

10. Karl Marx urges that there are two hostile powers that alienate a worker from his product, (i) One is the capitalist who controls the process of production, and (ii) the second one is the market situation which controls the capital and the process of production. The finished product belongs to someone else who is free to use it in whatever manner he chooses. In this way, the capitalist becomes more powerful. The worker is too adversly affected by the fluctuations in the market price and in the movement of capital.

11. Finally, the worker is alienated not only from himself (or herself), but from other men too. Every person is alienated from others, and each of others is likewise alienated from human life.

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