Part of the SAGE Social Thinkers series, this brief and clearly–written book provides a concise introduction to the work, life, and influences of Karl Marx, one of the most revered, reviled, and misunderstood figures in modern history. The book serves as an excellent introduction to the full range of Marx’s major themes—alienation, economics, social class, capitalism, communism, materialism, environmental sustainability—and considers the extent to which they are relevant today. It is ideal for use as a self-contained volume or in conjunction with other sociological theory textbooks.
Now that we have introduced the general themes of this book and Marx’s theory of materialism, we can begin to consider the individual categories and concepts of his work. This chapter will be devoted to alienation, which is one of the terms Marx used to explain the lack of well-being that people suffer from within capitalism. It must be noted that alienation is generally a term used by Marx early in his writing career; his later works do not contain a systematic use of the concept. Nonetheless, the content of the concept of alienation is intrinsic to Marx’s writings.
This chapter will first provide a general overview of the conception of alienation. Second, we will consider Marx’s classic statement on alienation from the “Estranged ...