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Sadia Zafar

Sociology CIA II

Roll number 292


First found in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, Karl Marxs work on Alienation still holds ground today, due to the general consistency of Capitalism. In a time where Capitalism is the new religion, and the God being worshiped is money, labour has been devalued and dehumanised insofar as it has caused the labourer to be estranged from a) his product, b) the process of production, c) himself, and d) those around him. The thrust of this paper will be the process of Alienation in the context of a Dominos Pizza franchise.

The worker sees the product of his labour as an alien object because he, through what Marx calls reification, becomes a commodity. In Marxs words, The devaluation of the world of men is in direct proportion to the increasing value of the world of things [he creates]. The underlying assumption in this statement is that of exploitation. The more the worker produces, the worse off he is because whatever he produces is for his boss, the capitalist. Therefore, in relation to the capitalist, he becomes poorer and poorer. Though the product is the embodiment of the workers own energy, it does not belong to hima. Not only can he not use it, but he also does not recognise the product as his own. A pizza-maker can take possession of his labour efforts only indirectly by spending the wage he receives from the proprietor to buy the very product he created.

The Ford model of production is predominant in the capitalist industrial regime. It is characterised by a distinctive division of labour in which the unskilled workers execute simple, repetitive tasks at a machine. The more ingenious labour becomes, the less ingenious becomes the worker. That is, the worker becomes an extension of the machine, following a
Historically, this wasnt the case. Both the medieval handicraftsman and the handicraftsman of antiquity were the proprietors of their own products. The peasant, and even the serf of the middle ages, remained in possession of at least 50 per cent, sometimes 60 and 70 per cent, of the output of their own labour. [Mandel, E. (1970). The Causes of Alienation. International Socialist Review, 3(31). Retrieved June 30, 2011, from http://www.ernestmandel.org/en/works/txt/1970/causes_of_alienation.htm]

standardised work routine based on a Tayloristic deskilling of tasks. Dominos Pizza workers go through an elaborate training system called the Pizza College 1 in which they learn to perform very specific tasks and specialise in them. At the outlet, pizzas are made in an assembly-line style with different workers making the dough, spreading the toppings, putting the pizza in and taking it out of the oven, and cutting the pizza and packaging it. The idea behind this minute division of labour is increasing throughput. The capitalists objective is for the results to be quantifiable rather than qualitative. To this end, the workers are forced to work at a pace and with an intensity that does not allow them to enjoy their work and, in some cases, is a threat to their lives. The time associated with each task is carefully calculated and workers are penalised for taking longer. Pizza-makers working in the pizza make-line take less than 2 minutes to make a regular, few-frills pizza, following which the pizza is baked for 3-5 minutes depending on the size. At Dominos, under normal conditions, a pizza is ready for being taken out by the delivery man within 5 minutes of a customer placing his order. The emphasis here is on time. Perhaps the best person to understand the value of time at Dominos Pizza is the delivery manb. The companys famous 30 Minutes or Free scheme forced the delivery men to drive at breakneck speeds, miss signals, and, in essence, give the commodity more importance than a human life. Owing to accidents which led to the death of a civilian at the hands of speeding Dominos Pizza delivery man in North America and, in another case, the death of a young pizza delivery man himself in South Korea2, the guarantee scheme was discontinued in all countries except India3. But even here, in Delhi, a Dominos Pizza delivery man injured a young boy while rushing to serve an order last year. The verdict was delivered this month; Dominos Pizza India was asked to pay a compensation of Rs 1.5 lakhs to the injured boy.4

Marx wrote about species-life as being the ideal state where man can exhibit his difference from other animals by utilising free thought and exercising creativity. But the worker has been alienated from his species-life by putting himself under the control of another person the capitalist. Marx wrote, ...it [labour] is not his own, but someone elses, that it does not belong to him, that in it he belongs, not to himself, but to another. Workers sell their labour power and, in the process, lose control over a large part of their waking hours. In those hours,

The reason for this is two-fold. One is that he is penalized for packages delivered late that leave from the store with 25 minutes to spare for delivery. Second is that he has his own bottom line to consider: the faster he is, the more deliveries he can make in a day, and the more he can earn by way of tips.

they can exercise their creativity only as much as the capitalist allows them to, which in a fast food chain like Dominos that is based on standardisation is not at all. They have no decision-making power and their actions are controlled by the capitalist. They become prisoners of their own trade. This forced mechanical, mindless labour stunts the workers mental growth. It [labour] produces intelligence [for the rich], but for the worker, stupidity, cretinism. And even though Dominos may claim that through world-class training programmes, competitive pay rates and great incentives, we encourage our people to develop their talents and release their potential5, in reality all it does is create an environment where a toe out of line or any unsolicited creativity on the part of the workers result in immediate dismissal. Marx also commented on how alienation has taken on a physical, tangible form: ...the better formed the product, the more deformed becomes the worker. It [labour] produces beauty [for the rich] but the for the worker deformity. Marx further explained this idea in The Capital6 through his description of how certain types of work produce physical distortionsc among the workers. He singled out the overdevelopment of certain muscles and bone curvatures as even adding to the workers efficiency in performing his limited, one-sided task, and thus becoming an advantage to his employer. Indeed, a pizza-maker who has spent long enough making and stretching dough will have more developed arm and finger muscles than one who has not, thus becoming an asset to his boss by being able to perform the task even faster.

In his explanation of the fourth type of alienation, Marx wrote, Within the relationship of estranged labour, each man views another in accordance with the standard and the relationship in which he finds himself as a worker. That is, the worker tends to see other people through the lens of whatever economic relations he has with them. This is where the idea of commodity fetishism appears: instead of a direct social relationship existing between people, there exists a material relation between them because each person seeks to obtain the others product. At a Dominos outlet, a person is important only so long as he can demonstrate his ability to buy a pizza. If one has no intention of purchasing the product, the in-store worker will signal for the person to move on. The person is then not treated as a

Stunted size, bent backs, overdeveloped and underdeveloped muscles, gnarled fingers, enlarged lungs, and death pale complexions.

human who has needs or desires, but as a consumer who either has or does not have something to give them. Ernst Fischer explains that workers are alienated from other people because they do not see each other as fellowmen having equal rights, but as superiors or subordinates, as holders of a rank, as a small or large unit of power.7 This is responsible for racism and sexism in the workplace. The workers, instead of being bound by organic solidarity, are individualistic. Marxs critique on Alienation rests on an understanding of what he considered non-alienated, desirable, creative labour. The theory of Alienation contains within it the theory of the ideal labour situation as envisioned by Marx. After my reading of the Manuscripts of 1844, I could see the contemporary significance of Marxs theory in the existence of two sociological concepts that I had read up earlier: The first is McDonaldisation. The four components of McDonaldisation8 efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control highlighted by George Ritzer correspond with the factors responsible for the alienation of the worker from the production process. The second concept is that of the Leisure Industry. Alienation takes away from work because the worker no longer enjoys it and sees it as a forced activity imposed upon him by external necessities. So, he separates his work from leisure, which leaves a void in his free hours a void which is filled by the leisure industry9.

PRIMARY REFERENCE: Marx, K. (1959). Economic & Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. Moscow: Progress Publishers. Retrieved June 22, 2011, from http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/Economic-PhilosophicManuscripts-1844.pdf

SECONDARY REFERENCE SOURCES: Cox, J. (1998). An Introduction to Marx's Theory of Alienation. International Socialism, Issue 79. Retrieved June 29, 2011, from http://pubs.socialistreviewindex.org.uk/isj79/cox.htm Edis, G. (2002). Alienation in the Work Place Retrieved June 30, 2011, from http://cpc.starvingmind.com/printer_11.shtml Mandel, E. (1970). The Causes of Alienation. International Socialist Review, 3(31), 19-23, 49-50. Retrieved June 30, 2011, from http://www.ernestmandel.org/en/works/txt/1970/causes_of_alienation.htm Mayhew, C., & Quinlan, M. (2002). Fordism in the fast food industry. Sociology of Health & Illness, 24(3), 261-284. Retrieved July 3, 2011, from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-9566.00294/pdf Ollman, B. (1976). Alienation: Marx's Conception of Man in Capitalist Society (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press.

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http://www.dominos.uk.com/people/working_at_dominos.aspx http://koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/201102/117_81803.html http://www.dominos.co.in/blog/you-got-30-minutes-the-dominos-deal/ PTI (2011, August 2). Rushing in to serve hot pizza cost Dominos Rs 1.15 lakh. The

Economic Times. Retrieved August 2, 2011, from http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/cons-products/food/rushing-into-serve-hot-pizza-cost-dominos-rs-115-lakh/articleshow/9454750.cms

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^ Same as endnote 1 Capital I, 349 Fischer, E. (1996). How to Read Karl Marx (p. 63). NY: Monthly Review Press. Ritzer, G. (2004). The McDonaldization of Society (Revised New Century ed.). Pine Forge


Braverman, H. (1974). Labor and Monopoly Capital (p. 278). NY: Monthly Review Press.