Discuss Marxist' Theory of Alienation

Topics: Sociology, Capitalism, Karl Marx, Marxism / Pages: 11 (2646 words) / Published: Nov 22nd, 2012

When considering the concept of sociology and its definition, one immediately thinks of trying to understand the world in which we live. However, for Karl Marx we should not only understand the world, but also seek to actively change it (Macintosh, 1997). The concept of alienation differs in terms of its sociological meaning in relation to that of the psychological definition and has been used to describe many other phenomena’s over the last four centuries. The aim of this essay is to assess the concept of alienation according to Karl Marx and explore his theory relating to four differing perspectives assigned to this, whilst also researching its historical roots and any relevance in today’s society. The concept of alienation in relation to sociology was developed by Karl Marx (1818-1883), a German philosopher, political economist, revolutionary and the founding father of Communism. His ideas for this theory originated in the writings of Feuerbach, who along with George W.F Hegel, were major influences on Marx. However, unlike Feuerbach, who believed that religion had a negative impact on human experience and that man was alienated from god, Marx considered man to be alienated from man in a social context. Indeed, Marx criticised Feuerbach’s work entitled ‘The Essence of Christianity’, which was published in 1841 for not developing the concept of alienation further by linking it to economic production strategies. In it, Feuerbach insists that visions of god being similar to their own image allow for them to alienate themselves from this fictionally created character. Therefore, issues regarding low self esteem and other social or personal problems can be diluted by visiting places of worship. He insists that guidance, leadership and solace can be found within the church. Indeed, Feuerbach argued that the church was used by the government as state apparatus to control society (Hughes et al, 1995 pp. 29-30). Marx

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