Marx’s Hegelian Sociology: Statics and Dynamics of Estrangement

  • John Torrance


It is usually held that the empirical content of Marx’s concept of estrangement, or ‘alienation’, consists in attitudes. The concept has therefore become domiciled in social psychology. It has interested sociologists mainly as an effect of social, economic or technological causes; or has been invoked as a cause of behaviour by those who favour subjective explanations. That is not at all the position taken in this book. I wish to argue that estrangement should be treated as a sociological concept: that it refers primarily to social relationships, social facts in Durkheim’s sense, and only secondarily to concomitant attitudes; that it is a genuine sociological universal, indispensable for describing the dimensions of social structure; and that Marx himself, in his later works, was using it in this way. These are large claims, involving a particular conception of sociological theory as well as an unusual interpretation of Marx. The reader can hardly be expected to accept either at first sight.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 12.
    K. Marx, Pre-capitalist Economic Formations, trans. J. Cohen, ed. E.J. Hosbawm (London, 1964) p. 96.Google Scholar
  2. 22.
    M. Weber, General Economic History, trans. F. Knight (New York, 1961) vol. 1, pp. 50, 151–3. Cf. Capital, III, pp. 325–6.Google Scholar
  3. 23.
    E. Mandel, Marxist Economic Theory, trans. B. Pearce (London, 1968).Google Scholar
  4. For interesting examples of silent barter, see E. W. Bovill, The Golden Trade of the Moors (Oxford, 1970) pp. 82, 123–5.Google Scholar
  5. 27.
    R. E. Park, ‘Human Migration and the Marginal Man’, American Journal of Sociology, vol. 33 (1928) pp. 888–9.Google Scholar
  6. 28.
    K. Marx, Ethnological Notebooks, ed. L. Krader (Assen, 1972) pp. 301–2.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Torrance 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Torrance
    • 1
  1. 1.Hertford CollegeOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations