For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Marx and Marxist views on work and the capitalist labour process"

by Spencer, David A (2014)


The writings of Karl Marx and the Marxist tradition offer a profound analysis of work. Marx combined an analysis of work as a vital human activity, with a critique of the form of work under capitalism. Work, in Marx’s view, remained ‘alienating’ under capitalist conditions; however, it retained the potential to become a life-enhancing activity in a future communist society. The alienation of the worker from his or her work could not be overcome, according to Marx, without the abolition of capitalism, and the move to communism. Marx’s analysis of work has remained, and continues to remain, a source of inspiration for critical work researchers as well as political activists.

Key Passage

Marx regarded work as a vital human activity. Human beings are seen to realise their essential being in work. Unlike many rival conceptualisations of work, Marx did not consider that work is universally and inevitably irksome. Quite to the contrary, he maintained that humans are animated and uplifted by the work they do. (p.42)


Marx, Alienation, Marxist, Capitalism, Critical Theory, Political Activism


Marx, Labour Process

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