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MARXIST THEORIES OF ALIENATION AND REIFICATION: THE RESPONSE TO CAPITALISM, STATE SOCIALISM AND THE ADVENT OF POSTMODERNITY

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 1 June 1991

Abstract

Marx's formulation of the alienation problematic is grounded in a strategic set of underlying assumptions concerning the human condition. On the one hand, people are seen as the creators of their material and mental world through their labour activity. They are endowed with natural human qualities, creative powers and historically existing potentialities that are essential to human growth. People are, in essence, free, creative, productive beings of praxis in conscious control of their activities and the world they have created. But the material and mental products of human labour (e.g. commodities, ideas, social institutions) assume an autonomous life of their own. They come to rule over people as dehumanizing objects and powers, as alien and hostile forces operating independently above and against the common will of their own creators. People no longer experience themselves as active human agents in conscious control of their life circumstances. Their own productive activities, human creations, social relationships and nature at large remain alien and beyond their grasp. The realization of natural human capacities and potentialities for a genuinely human life in an alienating world of domination and oppression is consequently thwarted, repressed or denied. Alienation is construed as a universal social phenomenon that pervades all spheres of human life in the existing world.

Citation

Schweitzer, D. (1991), "MARXIST THEORIES OF ALIENATION AND REIFICATION: THE RESPONSE TO CAPITALISM, STATE SOCIALISM AND THE ADVENT OF POSTMODERNITY", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 11 No. 6/7/8, pp. 27-52. https://doi.org/10.1108/eb013144

Publisher

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MCB UP Ltd

Copyright © 1991, MCB UP Limited