Alienating students

Marxist theory in action

in Learning and Teaching
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  • 1 San Jose State University megan.thiele@sjsu.edu
  • 2 City University of New York-Brooklyn College ypan@brooklyn.cuny.edu
  • 3 City University of New York-Bronx Community College devinmolina@gmail.com
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Abstract

Karl Marx’s revolutionary call, ‘Workers of the World Unite’, resonates with many in today’s society. This article describes and assesses an easily reproducible classroom activity that simulates both alienating, and perhaps more importantly, non-alienating states of production as described by Marx. This hands-on learning activity gives students the opportunity to experience and process these divergent states. In reflecting, students connect their classroom experience to societal forces surrounding wage labour. A quasi-experimental design implemented across eight sociology classes at two U.S. university campuses – one two-year and one four-year college – points to the effectiveness of the activity. Evidence suggests that students are better able to grasp Marx’s theory of alienation, retain the knowledge over time and apply it to their own lives with this experiential learning activity.

Contributor Notes

Megan Thiele is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences at San Jose State University. She received her PhD from the University of California-Irvine. She teaches courses on sociology of education, stratification, the environment and quantitative methods. She conducts research at the intersection of education, inequality and policy. Email: megan.thiele@sjsu.edu

Yung-Yi Diana Pan is an assistant professor of sociology at the City University of New York-Brooklyn College and received her PhD from the University of California-Irvine. Immigrant adaptation, race and ethnicity, professional socialisation and law and society anchor her research interests. She teaches race and ethnicity, immigration, theory, qualitative methods and introductory sociology courses. Email: ypan@brooklyn.cuny.edu

Devin Molina is an assistant professor of sociology at the City University of New York-Bronx Community College. He received his PhD from the University of California-Santa Barbara. He teaches courses on social inequality and introductory sociology and anthropology courses. His research focuses on immigration, racial inequality, policing and white supremacy. Email: devinmolina@gmail.com

Learning and Teaching

The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences

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