Alienating students

Marxist theory in action

in Learning and Teaching
Restricted access

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

  • AnyonJ. (1980) ‘Social class and the hidden curriculum of workJournal of Education 162 no. 1: 6792.

  • BartikT.J. and HousemanS.N. (2007) ‘A future of good jobs? America’s challenge in the global economyEmployment Research 14 no. 4: 13.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BerkmanL.F. (2004) ‘The health divideContexts 3 no. 4: 3843.

  • BowlesS. and GintisH. (1976) Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and Contradictions of Economic LifeNew York: Basic Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BrimijoinK. (2005) ‘Differentiation and high-stakes testing: an oxymoron?Theory into Practice 44 no. 3: 25461.

  • BurowayM. (1979) Manufacturing Consent: Changes in the Labor Process under Monopoly CapitalismChicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • ConleyD. (2013) ‘Karl Marx’ in D. Conley (ed.) You May Ask Yourself: An Introduction to Thinking Like a Sociologist3rd ed. New York: W.W. Norton and Company54548.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • EdwardsR. (1979) Contested Terrain: The Transformation of the Workplace in the Twentieth CenturyNew York: Basic Books.

  • FosterJ.B. (1999) ‘Marx’s theory of metabolic rift: classical foundations for environmental sociologyThe American Journal of Sociology 105 no. 2: 366405.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HarrisD.A.HarrisW.M. and FondrenK.M. (2015) ‘Everybody eats: using hunger banquets to teach about issues of global hunger and inequalityTeaching Sociology 43 no. 2: 111.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HawtreyK. (2007) ‘Using experiential learning techniquesThe Journal of Economic Education 38 no. 2: 14352.

  • HirschyA.S. and WilsonM.E. (2002) ‘The sociology of the classroom and its influence on student learningPeabody Journal of Education 77 no. 3: 85100.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KallebergA.L. (2009) ‘Precarious work, insecure workers: employment relations in transitionAmerican Sociological Review 74 no. 1: 122.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MaghboulehN.ChildressC. and AlamoC. (2015) ‘Our table factory, inc’: learning Marx through role playLearning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences 8 no. 2: 528.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MarxK. (1978) [1844] ‘Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844’ in R.C. Tucker (ed.) The Marx-Engels Reader2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton and Company66125.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McKinneyK.HoweryC.B.StrandK.J.KainE.L. and White BerheideC. (2004) Learning and the Sociology Major Updated: Meeting the Challenge of Teaching Sociology in the Twenty-first Century: A Report of the American Sociological Association Task Force on the Undergraduate MajorWashington, DC: American Sociological Association <http://www.asanet.org/documents/teaching/pdfs/Lib_Learning_FINAL.pdf> (accessed 4 August 2014).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MeierD. and WoodG. (eds) (2004) Many Children Left Behind: How the No Child Left Behind Act is Damaging our Children and Our SchoolsBoston: Beacon Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ParrottaK.L. and BuckA.R. (2013) ‘Making Marx accessible: understanding alienated labor through experiential learningTeaching Sociology 41 no. 4: 3609.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • RitzerG. (2004) The McDonaldization of SocietyThousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.

  • SamudraJ.K. (2008) ‘Memory in our body: thick participation and the translation of kinesthetic experienceAmerican Ethnologist 35 no. 4: 66581.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ShantzA.AlfesK.BaileyC. and SoaneE. (2015) ‘Drivers and outcomes of work alienation: reviving a conceptJournal of Management Inquiry 24 no. 4: 38293.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SidorkinA.M. (2004) ‘In the event of learning: alienation and participative thinking in educationEducational Theory 54 no. 3: 25162.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SilvaJ.M. (2012) ‘Constructing adulthood in an age of uncertaintyAmerican Sociological Review 78 no. 4: 50522.

  • SlaughterS. and RhoadesG. (2004) Academic Capitalism and the New Economy: Markets State and Higher EducationBaltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • The Australian Sociological Association (2012) Sociology: Threshold Learning OutcomesInstitute for Social Research Swinburne University of Technology <http://www.tasa.org.au/uploads/2011/12/Threshold-Learning-Outcomes-for-Sociology-final.pdf> (accessed 1 August 2014).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (2007) SociologySouthgate House <http://www.qaa.ac.uk/en/Publications/Documents/Subject-benchmark-statement-Sociology.pdf> (accessed 1 August 2014).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • TrochimW.M.K. and DonnellyJ.P. (2007) The Research Methods Knowledge Base3rd ed. Cincinnati, OH: Atomic Dog Publishing. <http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/quasiexp.php> (accessed 12 May 2014).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WelchP. (2006) ‘Feminist pedagogy revisitedLearning and Teaching in the Social Sciences 3 no. 3: 17199.

  • WesternB. and RosenfeldJ. (2011) ‘Unions, norms, and the rise in U.S. wage inequalityAmerican Sociological Review 76 no. 4: 51337.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WillsJ.B.BrewsterZ.W. and FulkersonG.M. (2005) ‘The stratification puzzle: an active-learning exercise in hard work and successTeaching Sociology 33 no. 4: 38995.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WindsorE.J. and CarrollA.M. (2015) ‘The bourgeoisie dream factory: teaching Marx’s theory of alienation through an experiential activityTeaching Sociology 43 no. 1: 617.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WoodfinR. and ZarateO. (2009) Marxism: A Graphic GuideUnited Kingdom: Icon Books.

  • WrightM.C. (2000) ‘Getting more out of less: the benefits of short-term experiential learning in undergraduate sociology coursesTeaching Sociology 28 no. 2: 11626.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 30 30 30
PDF Downloads 15 15 15