Sociology of Work

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Programme: | Sociology of work | Question: | Explain the terms “alienation, bureaucracy and de-skilling” in sociology of work? To what extent are these concepts relevant in explaining how work is structured in contemporary societies? | Marx’s alienation is regarded as a feeling of separation from the work that people do, that is, the act of production, from other workers, from what they are producing and even from their own essential humanity. In Weber’s definition bureaucracy is an organisation with a hierarchy of paid, full-time officials who form a chain of command (Haralambos and Holborn, 2008). Braverman presents an argument against what he regards as the degradation of work and the de-skilling of the labour force which is a result of the inhuman aspects of capitalism (Kanungo, 1982). The three terms, alienation, bureaucracy and de-skilling shall be explained, and the degree to which these conceptions are still applicable in modern day work organisations and industries. In the theory of alienation, Marx shows the damaging impacts of capitalist production on the workers(Ollman, 1976) by distinguishing four forms of alienation. Firstly, he argues that workers do not control the process of their work because they do not own the means of production that is necessary to manufacture a product. The worker has no role in deciding what to do or how to do it. The capitalist who owns these means also purchases the labour of the worker that isengaged. Apart from working under the supervision of the capitalist, the worker also does not have a say in what becomes of the finished product after production. This latter point forms the second feature of alienation, the workers' estrangement from the product of their work (Ollman, 1976).Thirdly, the worker is estranged from other fellow workers. Rivalry and class antagonism within the workplace declares most forms of
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