Karl Marx's Study Of Estranged Labour

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Socl 3013: Sociology of Work
Estranged Labour with in contemporary forms of work

Karl Marx’s study of estranged labour plays a vital part in understanding today’s contemporary work place. The notion of estranged labour is the separation of labourers or workers from the products of their labor as well as the labor process, their fellow works and from their bodies and human potential. All taken away and alienated by the employers in an attempt to dominant the work force (Marx 1964:111). One of Marx’s great contributions was the highlighting of how alienation is ingrained in the material world of capitalism as well human labour, meaning that it is not a personal problem or state of mind but an apparent objective feature of the way in which
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The first is alienation of the worker from the product produced by his/her labour. In other words the separation of the one’s self from the products of the ones work. Under capitalism, merchandise is produced by workers and is taken away from them and sold, and therefore labour itself becomes a commodity. The products don’t belong to the worker. The more the worker produces, the less the worker has. “All these consequences follow from the fact that the worker is related to the product of his labour as to an alien object” (Marx 1964:13-14). This produces wealth for the capitalist, but poverty for the worker. What is embodied in the product of his labour is no longer his own. This alienation produces riches and power for some but enslaves and degrades workers. The product of labour belongs to the capitalist, who uses it to create profits. Workers have no control over the product, or over what they are producing and the products workers create end up dominating workers Adams and Sydie (2002:128). The life which he has given to the object sets itself against him as an alien and hostile …show more content…
In other words the fact that a worker is only required to perform one task in the process of production means that he becomes uneducated in the rest of the process which leads to the workers ‘devaluation’. Marx’s concept of alienation and the devaluation of the working class plays a huge role and can be seen in the difference in the education levels between the upper class and the working class huge role in post-apartheid South Africa (not to take away from the obvious role that apartheid race policy had on inequality of education as well). Using concept of alienation to examine the difference in education levels we can determine that one of the main reason for this difference is the way in which labour is structure in work places such as factories. The production line and the fact that a worker will only perform one or two menial task in that production line is what cause the worker to become alienated from the means and process that go into the production of a product(Marx 1997:63). Thus workers in occupations such as factory labour don’t require years of higher education or training in order to perform their job. This means that the majority of the working class does not seek out or required to get a higher education or training as it is not needed. It is this that makes the “ labor produces wonderful things for the rich … but for the worker, (only) stupidity”

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