April 21, 2005

Alienation eh?

Blank faces at my Political Theory seminar on Marx's alienation.

Of course the problem is the average undergraduate has never really had a real, proper truely alienating job. It's out of their experience.

Still 30/40 years of working for managers like David Brent with teach em!
link
Gareth is an achytypal working class tory.

I wonder whether working in a university is any better? I once met a retired laboratory technician from a well known uni. He said he hated every single day of the years he worked there.

A particular occasion was burnt into his memory. The day when he was trying to explain to a couple of top academics that the departmental budget couldn't give them what they wanted. All one could say to the other was "How do you let him (the lab. tech.) dare talk to you like that


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  1. "Of course the problem is the average undergraduate has never really had a real, proper truely alienating job. It's out of their experience."

    Isn't the same true for every Marxist? :-)

    21 Apr 2005, 11:49

  2. Unlikely as most people have them. Most people I know who still work have one. I used to have one but I'm retired now. He he he.

    21 Apr 2005, 12:01

  3. I think the blank faces were more to do with it being 9am in the morning! The difficulty with Marx's theory of alienation in 2005 is that very few of us are producing a 'product', either directly or indirectly. So can we really become 'alienated' from something that we can't touch and feel?

    21 Apr 2005, 15:02

  4. Sorry if I caused any offence. 6 miles cycling to campus always means I'm well awake by 9:00 am.

    I really don't see the big difference between tangible and intangible products.

    I'm not alienated from my essay about J.S. Mill because I own it in both a legalistic sense and in a sense that I can always go back to it and change it, should I want to.

    But I'm alienated from all the "intellectual property" (software) I helped produce for my previous employers. I spent hours and hours working on these products and my labour was mixed with lots of other people's before the "intellectual property" was in a fit state for licence to another company. Ie to become a commodity.

    I have to admit that I don't see that being different in any other sort of society with a high division of labour. And I don't suppose anyone is interested in buying my J.S Mill essay off me anyway.

    The important issue is how much time do we have to spend doing those sort of things which we won't do unless we were paid for them.

    21 Apr 2005, 17:01

  5. No, I didn't take any offence! 10 miles on the Stagecoach X12 means I'm not really in the mood for a seminar on Hobbes.

    I think nowadays (unless you're in a very demanding job) we (will) have a good work/life balance. Although I might be alienated from my work, I'll get a weekend in which to spend the hard-earned cash!

    22 Apr 2005, 16:13

  6. We are told that we live in a society where instant gratification is the norm.

    People want and want it now!

    But that's in our leisure lives. In our work lives we are expected to have our noses to grindstone for a long time before we get any rewards.

    Isn't there a tension somewhere?

    23 Apr 2005, 09:00

  7. Eloise

    Hiya,
    are you doing that course in PAIS? (i found your entry on Marx through links from someone else's blog at Warwick) I did it a couple of years ago. Who's teaching it these days, that was always confusing.
    E:

    03 May 2005, 12:35

  8. It's Political Theory from Hobbes. John Cunliffe teaches. I thought it is pretty well taught. The problem is that at this time of year students are either trying to finish essyas or starting revision.

    As the tutor pointed out, a big problem is that Marx writes in a Hegalian way.

    03 May 2005, 14:30

  9. Eloise

    Well, the problem when i did it was that most of the students didn't like the course or theory in general, so those of us who did got the piss taken and had to deal with people's reactions to being somewhere they didn't want to be. Andrew claims there are more people this year who are interested in theory, though.

    11 May 2005, 10:48

  10. At the back of my mind was the issue of using blogs as a learning tool. I've yet to seen this happen consistently.

    One the one hand there's just chat (although what people chat about, their language and how they see themselves is interesting from a sociological viewpoint) on the other there are essays and even more weighty academic contributions.

    11 May 2005, 12:06


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