Apply Marx’s theory of alienation (including the four forms of alienation) to the current condition of college students, especially the phenomenon of increasing levels of student debt. Discuss the relationship between the expansion of the population of college students and the rise of contingent work in the United States. Discuss whether and/or how the relationship between higher education and the capitalist economy results in the alienation of students as students, and not just as future workers or debtors.
Marx’s theory of alienation For College Student Essay
To Marx, all major organisations in the capitalist economy were marked by a condition of alienation. The association between capitalist system and student loan system, have alienated the students, and have caused them to be burdened with paying student debts for their entire lifetime. The promise of decent income after college is no longer conceivable, and this has resulted in contingency employment. This article will examine Marx philosophy on alienation of student in relation to their loans, and employment, and also examine the relationship between capitalist and student loan system.
The alienation of man as a citizen in his association with the state is the initial point of Marx’s philosophical thought. Marx’s philosophical thought elucidates that the state which purports to represent the society’s collective interests, instead represents interests of only a section of the society (Kirsch, 2013). Therefore, forfeiture of individual rights to the institutions of the state represented a phenomenon of alienation. The society is losing their rights to institutions, which in turn are hostile to them. In this knowledge based economy, the demand for sophisticated academic skills, and a high degree of literacy is high. Therefore, the American society have been led to pursue a college education in order to take advantage of the existing opportunities, and avoid chronic employments and low-wage jobs (Levinson, Cookson, & Sadovnik, 2014). The society is constantly reminded that earnings of college graduates is higher than those with high school diplomas. Yet, in reality this is far from the truth, college education today, unlike in the preceding decades, no longer provides high chances of a high rewarding career. In United States students have more than $1 trillion in outstanding student loans (Resnick & Wolff, 2010). The soaring costs of education, college degree is remaining a lifetime achievement, which is coupled by unprecedented financial burden. Most university student borrow money to attend college, which leaves them at the expense of federal institution for many years to come. Most of these students will never gain gainful employment that the college degree promises (Kirsch, 2013). Students are left at the mercies of state institutions, which in turn exploit them for the rest of their lives.
The nature and scope of contingent workers in United States has expanded dramatically in the last decade. Contingency workforce includes new forms of non-conventional employments such as leased labour, contractors, and temporary labours. This can be attributed to increase in labour costs linked with employees’ compensation insurance, unemployment benefits and health benefits (Levinson, Cookson, & Sadovnik, 2014). An increasing number of recent graduates are being forced to look for employment through legal temp agencies where they receive lower earning and no job security. This is associated with the four types of alienation, which Marx advocated in his philosophy. In the first type, that is alienation of worker from his work describes the alienation of labour through the assignment of exchange values. Labour is converted in concrete objects, which benefit consumers. With contingency workforce, institutions have control over intellectual and manual labour. The benefits of labour are based on market forces, which subjects workers to low returns, which are subject to diminishing rate of returns. This represents an aspect of exploitation because wages are kept at the lowest possible rate in order to maximise the capitalist investment capital and rate of return (Levinson, Cookson, & Sadovnik, 2014). The second alienation is alienating the worker from the act of producing. This exploits the worker by restricting his, or her human nature. The ability of humans to control the values that affect their labour is restricted, which in turn hampers their ability to purchase consumer goods and services, and gain the full value of goods and services. Contingency labour restricts the ability of workers to take advantage of the human nature. Contingency labour alienates workers from themselves, as producers. Ability of workers to engage in factors of production is hampered by limiting the ability of workers to exploit their human nature. Contingency employment also alienates workers from other workers (Resnick & Wolff, 2010). Workers become commercial commodity, which can be traded in competitive labour markets. The legal temp agencies have the power to trade labour in the market, thereby, alienating workers from other workers.
The relationship between the capitalist economy and higher education alienates students. The impact of the college costs and ballooning student loans leave families at the expense of government institutions. Although, studies have shown that students earn more in their lifetime than the college loans; hence, they will be able to repay their debt. Those findings are reflective of the real situation on the ground (Kirsch, 2013). The student loan system in the United States has been likened to the mortgage crisis of 2008. The rapid increase in students’ loans and the limited ability to repay the students is likely to result in massive defaults, which will cripple the entire student loan system. The poor economic climates mean that most students will be working various jobs, in order to supplement their income to be able to repay their student loans. In actual sense, this means that they will be repaying their loans for the rest of the lives (Kirsch, 2013).
Marx’s philosophical thought elucidates that the state which purports to represent the society’s collective interests, instead represents interests of only a section of the society. The relationship between the capitalist economy and higher education alienates students. The impact of the college costs and ballooning student loans leave families at the expense of government institutions. Contingency alienates workers in terms of worker from his work, worker from the act of producing, workers from themselves, as producers and workers from other workers.
Kirsch, M. H. (2013). Queer theory and social change. London: Routledge.
Levinson, D., Cookson, P., & Sadovnik, A. (2014). Education and sociology: An encyclopedia. London: Routledge.
Resnick, S., & Wolff, R. (2010). The economic crisis: A Marxian interpretation. Rethinking Marxism, 22(2), 170-186.