Alienation from work

Experimental visualization of narrower problems
Other Names:
Alienation of human labour
Industrialization produces new wealth, but it also imposes rigid controls over human behaviour. Machines require workers to service them, calling for an adjustment of natural rhythms of the body to their mechanical processes. When labour became a mechanically regulated commodity, man lost part of himself. The worker, having lost control over both the conditions of his labour and the product of his work, became alienated from himself. The disintegrative, negative character of industrial society thus lies in its alienation of human labour and its denial of opportunities for men to fulfil themselves in meaningful work. This leads to a serious fall in morale which, with the boring and degrading conditions of work in modern industry, account for restrictions on output, wildcat strikes, outright sabotage and perhaps most common, in feelings of detachment from the entire work process. Rapid technological change dilutes old skills, makes others obsolete and creates demands for new ones, with the associated displacement of industries and the creation of depressed areas in prosperous economies. Men are dehumanized not only by the work situation but also by the ends for which society uses their work, primarily consumption for its own sake.
Alienation is a significant issue in any assessment of workers in a socialist state. Working conditions, and the worker's attitudes towards his conditions, are the focal point of this widespread feeling of alienation. Often the work itself is unsatisfying, being both monotonous and an inadequate source of livelihood, and the workers are isolated from one another because of a sense of competition fostered by managers who live in a world equally isolated from all workers.
Broader Problems:
Economic apathy
Problem Type:
D: Detailed problems
Date of last update
16.02.1997 – 00:00 CET