Alienation and Anomie – the Perverse Effects of Social Empowerment
With modernity, artificiality is developed: people become aware of the fact that society does not represent a natural grant, a gift from God, but the product of their own actions. On the one side, as a counterweight of artificiality, the modern individuals have uncovered the strength of the social empowerment. They “put” society “in motion”, but their actions and reactions trigger unexpected effects, they multiply, interfere and they develop their own dynamics which contributes inevitably to the empowerment of the processes that they have started. The individuals lose any control they have had over society, and their interventions have unwanted results. Because of its inert artificiality and its structural opacity, society appears to humans as “a second nature” that opposes their plans and that imposes certain constraints. This is the classical theme of alienation: human products become objectified, are dehumanized and end up by opposing their own creators. These alienation phenomena can be connected to the concept of anomie, defined as the distinction between the objective situation generated by the weakening of the normative rules from a certain society and the subjective feeling of confusion and ignorance regarding the means to action, causing thus anxiety. In this article our main focus is to emphasize two well established orientations from which inevitably start all present day approaches related to alienation and anomie in interpreting the effects of the social empowerment. More precisely, we will look on Marx’s alienation theory which emphasizes the human’s impossibility to control his social relationships, and also his estrangement from society (it appears to him as a foreign and hostile power). Instead, Durkheim – who is the creator of the term anomie – lays emphasis on the fact that society in itself has reduced the means to control the individual and his actions.
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