Numerous literary works have been done concerning the old age sociological concept of alienation. Marx is considered to be the founder and father of the concept of alienation despite the fact that he tended tofocus on the work or industrial aspect of it. Weber takes a considerably wide view of alienation and this paper seeks to highlight the views of both Karl Marx and Max Weber on alienation.
Marx was clear concerning alienation by terming it the process that resulted in the worker being foreign to the fruit and the products of his own labor. Marx takes a precise and small scale view of alienation by attacking from the labor point of view. This basis of alienation meant that the worker was contracted by the capitalist as a tool for exploitation by the capitalist. In this sense it comes out that the worker does not enjoy his labor because of the intended benefit that will arise by another human being making use of the craft. The worker would find in his labor the essence of life. This statement means that the worker had to work so that he could live. The work itself was the very means of livelihood and this livelihood could only come by virtue of the working selling the service of labor to the capitalist who would grant a wage at the end of the delivery of the labor. In this case, Marx relates labor to property in the sense that the labor of the worker could be bought by the capitalist and sold by the worker. This position translates into the worker seeming foreign to the products of his labor. The product belongs to the capitalist yet the worker is the sole investment in the labor cycle of producing the product. The capitalist then owns all the rights of the product and because of this skewed ownership arrangement all the gains that come as a result of selling the product are given to the capitalist. The worker only benefits from the sale of his labor to the capitalist.
Weber thinks that alienation arose out of legal rationality. In his view, Weber lays a considerable focus on the problems that arise out of the bureaucracy of politics. Though politics using the bureaucratic model would result into the most efficient structures of leadership, the end result would be a cage of iron. In this cage there is no space for humanity with regards to emotional issues and the values that bind society together. The people are locked up such that they lack the authority to challenge the doings and the rulings of the ruling elite. The people find it a mandatory requirement to obey anything that comes from the ruling elite because they have no other choice other than to do that. This means that the system is not kept in check hence occurrences of numerous excesses that push the population to the limits. In this case the business could as well be reduced to a considerable number of parts that make up the whole hence a person could easily specialize and the end result would not be anything close to relation to the individuals involved. This position by Weber reiterates that in all aspects of life, the delinking of the processes and assignment of the small parts to specialized individuals largely worked to reduce the connection and enhance the case of alienation. As opposed to Marx who focused on a small case application of alienation, Weber goes further to reiterate the deep entrenchment of alienation in the scope of life to the point that all phases of life and universally, the officer is separated from the field of service delivery. The soldier cannot be linked to the violence on the battle field and neither can the civil servant be linked to the administrative work he is involved in.
In conclusion it is clear that the works of Marx and Weber deeply address the concept of alienation. On one hand Marx is keen to highlight the genesis of alienation as capitalism and the labor fronts; Weber on the other hand brings out a more holistic view of alienation. Weber differs with Marx on the issue of the permeability of the concept of alienation by indicating that alienation is much more universal in almost all the fields of life.
Craig Calhoun, J. G. (2012). Classical Sociological Theory. John Wiley& Sons Ltd.