Marx' Alienation and Durkheim's Anomie

Section one: Explain Marx ’concept of alienation. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the two concepts of alienation and anomie and to show their similarities and differences. One of the most important Marx’ theories is the concept of ‘alienation’. By the concept of alienation Marx claimed that people are using their ability to control their life under the capitalistic conditions. Created in the middle of the 19th century, it is a form of dehumanization. Marx’ theory of alienation is represented in the book Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts.

For Marx, alienation depicts a ‘’socio-psychological condition describing the separation of individuals from their natural and social environments’’. (www. academia. edu) Marx typifies four main types of alienation. 1. Alienation of the worker from the product of his labor: ‘The worker places his life in the object; but now it no longer belongs to him, but to the object’ (1844b: 324); The worker cannot control the conditions in which he is working. 2. Alienation of the worker from the act of producing: ‘His labour is [… not voluntary, but forced; it is forced labor ‘ (1844b: 326); The worker becomes a servant of what he produces. The object is not in the worker’s control and it is not his production. 3. Alienation of the worker from himself, as a producer: ‘estranged labour [… ] tears away from him his species-life, his true species-objectivity’ (1844b: 329); The workers are alienated from themselves. Their work takes from their humanity because they cannot realise their true humanity in creating the object they produce. 4.

Alienation of the worker from other workers: ‘each man [… ] regards the other in accordance with the standard and the situation in which he as a worker finds himself’ (1844b: 330); The conditions of work also alienate the worker from other men. They are no longer a team of creative workers. Moreover, the conditions of their work put them in competition with each other. They should work faster and harder, they should produce more. They become an enemies rather than to be team. According to Marx, capitalism alienates people from their nature and humanity.

They cannot show their potential in the communication with the others, in the connection with what they produced and in this way they cannot show them as human beings. Section two: Explain Durkheim’s concept of ‘anomie’. The French sociologist Emile Durkheim introduced the concept of anomie in his book The Division of Labor in Society, published in 1893. The term anomie means social disorder and is also used by Durkheim in his studies about suicidal behavior – in 1897 in his study on Suicide.

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Anomie is usually translated as normlessness, but it best understood as insufficient normative regulation. (www. brooklinsoc. org) The concept was explained as a condition where the activities of the members in a society are no longer controlled by a norms. It refers to a ‘breakdown of the social norms’. (www. criminology. fsu. edu) Anomie refers to an environmental state where society fails to exercise adequate regulation or constraint over the goals and desires of its individual members (Durkheim, 1951: 241—276).

Individuals sometimes experience alienation from values and group goals during times of fast change in the society. This leads to conflicts and dissatisfaction. Industrialization with the division of labor affiliated anomie. In the process of producing, which is repeated, workers are losing their sense to feel their role in the production. The anomic suicide is taking place when the individuals are not regulated sufficiently by the society. This kind of suicide is more likely to happen of there are times when the economy is fluctuating.

As one of the important functions of a social order Durkheim pointed the social solidarity: there is defined place for every individual in the world that was created and reinforced by the social values of morality, religion, and patriotism. His observation was that these strands of solidarity are stronger or weaker in different societies. But he also observed that there are some forces in the modern society that are opposite to these moral ‘strands of social cohesion’ (www. understandingsociety. blogspot. dk).

In his theory of suicide, he explains differences in suicide rates across societies as the result of different levels of solidarity and its opposite, anomie. Durkheim highlights the situation of “anomie” to refer to the circumstance of individuals whose relationship to the social whole is weak. ( www. understandingsociety. blogspot. dk) Section three: How the two concepts are alike or different? The two theories are exposed by the authors as a essential problem of modernity as moving to a industrial state in Durkheim’s view and moving to a capitalist state in Marx’s view.

Another important similarity between the two theories is that they both arose in the 19th century when analysing the nature of labour – Marx’s concept was based on the labour process and Durkheim’s was written with the division of labour in mind. From these topics, the authors are trying to explain a variable changes, which are taking place in the society. Marx’s concept of alienation is showing another kind of separation – separation of the person from his/her nature as a free producer and creator, and separation of the person from his/her natural sociality. www. brooklinsoc. org) Thus, the modern capitalistic society is destructive of true society. In comparison, Durkheim and Marx are diagnosing a similar feature of modernity. But in Marx is comparing the present with the future as a society, full of equal and free producers. On the other hand in Durkheim’s case there is an implicit contrast between a pre-modern world in which individuals have a well-defined social and moral place and the contemporary world in which these strands of solidarity are breaking down. www. brooklinsoc. org) But in each case the author is grappling with a deficiency in modernity – a lack of moral and social setting that gives the individual a basis for self-respect and sociable cooperation with others. Bibliography: Marx. Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts 1844 Durkheim. The Division of Labor in Society 1951 www. brooklinsoc. org www. understandingsociety. blogspot. dk www. academia. edu

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