Alienation in Capitalistic Society

The literal meaning of Alienation is “to separate” . Marx gave this term a sociological meaning. His intention with the idea of alienation is the composition of such type of society in which the manufacturer remains deprived of the material of manufacturing. Also money has dominance over labour. Labourers cannot use the manufactured thing for its own use. Which means, the composition made by them becomes a thing that get separated from its maker.

Meaning of Alienation

The term Alienation first came into use during 19th and 20th Century. It is used to describe a state of disruption and change taking place in human labour process and social relations during Capitalism. It was first used as a philosophical concept by Hegel in 19th Century. He employed the term to describe the struggle for self realisation that took place in the wider historical world. Following Hegel, Ludwig Feuerbach and Marx were the first to give systematic expression to this concept.  It is their work which constitutes the starting place for a full blown theory of Alienation.

To Marx, history of mankind is not only the history of class struggle. But also increasing alienation of man from society. When the society goes on changing, the economic needs of people increases. According to Marx the relation between human beings is determined by two things

1. Forces of production: It refers to techniques used in process of production

2. Relations of production: There are two types of relationships

  • Relationship among the employees themselves
  • Relationship between the employer and employee

Alienation starts when the relation, particularly the vertical relation between employee and employer comes to a saturation point. It refers to a state when the human relationship is under acute strain and there is development of withdrawal symptom in individual. According to Marx, in capitalist order man’s own creation does not give him adequate pleasure. When the product and process of production becomes unfavourable to him, their starts alienation.

Characteristics of Alienation

1. De-humanization of workers

During Alienation the manufacturing process becomes so difficult that there is de-humanisation of workers. There is no touch of human feelings and momentum with manufactured products. The complete process is mechanical.

2. Personal Disorganization

Some Non Marxist said that the condition of Alienation is Anomic. The worker neither accept the rules of his group nor he is conscious for the attainment of characteristics of their system. It is a type of Personal Disorganization.

3. Interpersonal relationships are absent

The interpersonal relationships are totally absent in capitalistic order of production. The relationship between bourgeois and proletariat is of contradiction. It is very much formal in character. This formal contractual relationship immensely contributes to alienation.

4. Objective life Method

Alienation is not just the emotions and feelings of a person, which break him completely. Also it is an objective fact style of living which not only alienate him from factory but from society too.

5. Alienation is a Philosophical and Sociological category

In the Soviet word dictionary of Philosophy describing Alienation. A.P. Ogurtsoy says, this is the category in which there is objective change in person’s activities. As a result of which all work actions of person becomes secondary and the manufacturing process dominates him. Therefore when we see process of Alienation in its long historical tour. It becomes clear that it is not economical and physical in its form. But philosophical and sociological.

Forms of Alienation

1. Alienation from product

The worker has no claim over the production, neither he controls and monitors the product. He is no one to decide what to produce, how much and how he has to market. The labourer manufacture the product as if it is outside his ability and mind. Thus it results in alienation from the product.

2. Alienation from process of production

In entire process of production, the labourer considers himself as a cog. The work seems to be very much mechanical as he does not invest in capital. Nor he decides any course of action. He is reduced to the status of machine. Therefore he gets alienated from process of production.

3. From Community

The relationship in the community seems to be a mechanical type. The interpersonal touch is totally absent. So it is more or less formal and contractual in character. There is heavy competition.  And the relationship of labourer with employer is a relationship of antagonism and contradiction. The primary and face to face relationship vanishes which gives rise to frustration and alienation.

4. From one’s own self

The labourer gets alienated from himself. The estrangement of oneself occurs when he loses the charm of survival. His aspirations and expectations are lost as he leads a mechanic life.

5. Alienation from others

Capitalist economic order creates loneliness and dissatisfaction in the existing social relations. The individual begins to distrust his follow men as well as the people around him.  At this point he gets alienated from others.

6. Alienation from culture and society

It was later termed as “deviance” . The labour class gets dissociated from its culture and societal norms and standards. There is rejection of behavioural norms which is synonymous to anomie. There is lack of adjustment between individual and society.




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