UPSC SOCIOLOGY – Paper 1 – SOCIOLOGICAL THINKERS – Karl Marx- Historical materialism, mode of production, alienation, class struggle.
- Alienation literally means separation from.
- There is an inherent relationship between labour and human nature and this relatin is perverted in capitalist mode of production .
- He calls this perverted relation as alienation.
- Alienation is an example of the sort of contradiction that Marx’s dialectical approach focused on.
- There is a real contradiction between human nature which is defined and transformed by labour and the actual social conditions of labour under capitalism.
- Rather than being an end in itself, an expression of human capabilities, labour and capitalism is reduced to being a means to an end.
CONCEPT OF ALIENATION
- It occupies a central role in Marxian understanding of exploitation.
- He dwells on it in his work Economic and Political Manuscripts 1844.
- Alienation is a feeling of estrangement and disenchantment from a group, a situation society and even with oneself.
- It refers to a situation of powerlessness isolation and meaninglessness experienced by the people when they confront social institutions which they cannot control and consider oppressive.
ALIENATION IN ALL STAGES
- Primitive man felt alienated with nature as nature was too overpowering.
- Man devised Means of production and Forces of production to overpower nature but alienation is transferred from natural sphere to social sphere.
- As man goes from one mode of production to another, alienation increases.
- Man becomes a slave of production and his individuality is lost.
- An individual is essentially creative and his trie consciousness is defined by his being.
- Man in a mode of production is identified by his social being which is based on his work.
- But his creativity is objectified as he loses control over what he produces.
- Work is considered central in the life of an individual. It is an expression of creative being of men. So alienation of labour is the key to alienation of human beings.
- When man feels unable to find expression of his creativity, he feels alienated.
FOUR DIMENSIONS OF ALIENATION
- Alienation from the process of production
Process of production in capitalism is defined irrespective of individuality of workers.
It is fixed and workers cannot change it.
Workers lose control over production and feels alienated.
- Alienation from the product
Product doesn’t belong to those who produce it but to capitalist.
Workers don’t have any control over quantity, quality or nature of the product.
The same product has to be purchased by the worker fr the market leading to a sense of alienation.
- Alienation from fellow workers
Worker gets no time to interact with others.
The communal or social element of the work is lost in the capitalistic mode of production.
It leads to feeling of alienation among fellow workers as well.
- Alienation from oneself and one’s potential
Work is not a choice but a compulsion.
Work is external to the worker and it is not a part of his nature.
He loses control over his own thoughts also as none of his thoughts can’t be transformed into reality.
He gets alienated from his thoughts also and here alienation is at its peak.
ALIENATION – TWO WAYS
- In a given Mode of production, alienation increases with time.
Material forces become stronger and control over forces of production becomes tighter, leading to increasing exploitation.
Example: In feudalism, taxes and hardship on serfs increases over time.
- Its degree increases as mode of production itself changes.
It is least in Primitive communism and peaks in Capitalism.
- Goldthorpe and Lockwood suggests that work is just a means towards an end, i.e, better standards of living.
- C W Mills proves that white-collar workers also feels alienation. Fake smiles, Artificial politeness alienated them from their true self.
- Karl Popper says that alienation can be breeding ground for creative ideas. People may rebel and innovate when they feel alienated.
- Durkheim highlighted that anomie and alienation can be corrected by existing structures and there is no need of overhaul of the system in the form of utopian communism.