Writing Out Loud: Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844

Marx writes about human nature in his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts. Like Durkheim, Marx was interested in the effects of the economy on the human condition, although his take was a bit different. Answer the following questions after completing the reading.

Theme: Networks of Capital


  1. Read closely the passage where Marx writes, “The devaluation of the world of men is in direct proportion to the increasing value of the world of things.” Here Marx outlines his theory of alienation; more specifically, he argues that alienation is not just psychological—it also stems from structural conditions. What does it mean to say that alienation is structural?
  2. Marx presents us with four types of alienation, the first of which is alienation from the product of our labor. Define in your own words this type of alienation as well as the other three types.
  3. A recent study identified the worst jobs in America. Pick one of these jobs, or one of your own, and then analyze its most alienating aspects from a Marxist perspective. Do you think it is possible to overcome such alienation and love your job?
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