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Division of Labor in Society According to Karl Marx

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Karl Marx examined division of labor in society. “By 1844, Marx had come to the conclusion that the whole world of history is nothing but the creation of man by human labor” (lecture notes). Marx specifies that labor had gone through many changes in history. He lists Pre-Class, Asiatic, Ancient, feudal and capitalistic societies (lecture notes). I feel that Marx’s work in capitalistic societies is relevant because we live in capitalistic society. We now have labor unions, so workers can be proactive if they feel the conditions are unfair, unlike what they had when Karl Marx predicted the Proletariat would over throw the Bourgeoisie.

Work is organized in any society that is civilized.All organization in such societies involves production and the labor of some becomes the property of others (lecture notes). This relationship turns into exploitation, which is still what we see in our society today (lecture notes). “In capitalist societies the employer has ownership of the employee’s labor power during the hours of employment” (lecture notes).Alienation is something Marx viewed as inherent to capitalist societies (Ritzer & Stepnisky, p. 165).

Workers no longer see their work as an expression of their life’s purpose (Ritzer & Stepnisky, p. 173). Instead workers produce labor strictly for their employers (Ritzer & Stepnisky, p. 173). This can weaken labor relations, also relations with your co-workers and within the labor structure.Labor is no longer an expression of our own unique abilities, but is merely a means to earn income (Ritzer & Stepnisky, p. 173).

Essentially, the person is alienated because they are viewed more of a mechanical part of society, as a result they can become estranged from a sense of humanity. I also believe Karl Marx was 100% right on that. The way our society is working, many of us work jobs we hate or maybe are overqualified for to make money to care for ourselves and families. The zest of life is zapped out of us as we toil endlessly in a meager effort to make money while pleasing our employers. Some of us work so long and hard, we are unable to enjoy life. We can become depressed. Marx addressed anomie in his paramount of work in suicide studies. Marx was correct in his analysis that human freedom is increased with technology. “In a mature capitalist society, productive forces are sophisticated enough for individuals to satisfy material needs and to escape the drudgery and dehumanizing effects of alienated labor.”

This is very true of our modern lives. We can distract ourselves from our menial existence in the large scheme of our employer’s eyes by getting on Facebook or using other forms of social media. I like to view it like this, in the eyes of our employers, (big businesses) we are but mere lemons with juice ready to be squeezed. The juice is the labor that our employers want to and will extract from us. If we want to stay continually employed, we most go to work and product something. Employers do extract the labor from us in the form of work and then we are left in a dry state of existence. This does not say all employers are like this or that all workers feel like this.

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