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Marx: alienation, commodity fetishism and the world of contemporary social work

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This article offers an outline of Marx's concept of alienation and his later related concept of commodity fetishism. Building on previously published work on this topic, we argue that the lack of control over our lives and creative activity that, for Marx, defined alienation and that he saw as being more extreme under capitalism than under any previous mode of production has actually intensified during the era of neoliberalism. Through an examination of the areas of work, sexuality and health, we examine the terrible toll that the lack of control and greatly increased commodification is having on our health and relationships. Finally, we point to some ways in which an understanding of alienation can contribute to a radical social work theory and practice.
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Keywords: ALIENATION; COMMODIFICATION; COMMODITY FETISHISM; HUMAN NATURE; WORK

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Email: [email protected] 2: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 August 2018

This article was made available online on 10 August 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "Marx: alienation, commodity fetishism and the world of contemporary social work".

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  • An International Journal

    Critical and Radical Social Work is an exciting new journal that will promote debate and scholarship around a range of engaged social work themes. The journal publishes papers which seek to analyse and respond to issues, such as the impact of global neo-liberalism on social welfare; austerity and social work; social work and social movements; social work, inequality and oppression, and understanding and responding to global social problems (such as war, disasters and climate change).

    It welcomes contributions that consider and question themes relating to the definition of social work and social work professionalism, that look at ways in which organic and 'indigenous' practice can expand concepts of the social work project and that consider alternative and radical histories of social work activity. As a truly international journal it actively encourages contributions from academics, scholars and practitioners from across the global village.

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