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Marx’s and Hochschild’s Views on People’s Work Essay

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Updated: Jul 31st, 2022

Marx’s understanding of human nature is based on the assumption that people are species beings. According to the Marxist theory, a man proves that he is a “conscious species-being” through the creation of “a world of objects by his personal activity” ((Wharton, 2015, p. 7). In other words, an individual treats other species “as his object” and “treats himself as the actual, living species,” which are universal and unconstrained (Wharton, 2015, p. 6). From this, it could be inferred that the critical idea of Marx’s view on man’s essence is that people express their human nature via creating products. Marx’s theory of alienation contradicts the concept of scientific management because the latter deprives workers of control over the working process and makes them not independent actors but means to achieve the end of employees.

Regarding Hochschild’s philosophy, it is essential to define the concept of emotional work. Emotion work takes place when people regulate their emotions to achieve specific personal benefits or goals. The idea of emotional work should not be confused with the concept of emotional labor, which implies the “management of feeling to create a publicly observable facial and bodily display” (Wharton, 2015, p. 31). Emotion work is not compensated, whereas emotional labor could be performed in exchange for a wage, meaning that emotions could be managed to satisfy an employer’s expectations (Wharton, 2015). Hochschild argues that the management of emotions in exchange for a wage leads to the “transmutation” of private life into a social one (Wharton, 2015, p. 34). Scientific management presupposes that employees should act in a way that is expected by the managerial personnel. Hence, they should manage their emotions and commit emotional labor that would lead to emotional and physical exhaustion, absenteeism, and a work-family conflict in the long-term perspective.

From my perspective, scientific management is essential for the efficient operation of any business. Although it is impossible to deny the validity of the arguments proposed by Marx and Hochschild, it is still true that an employer’s prosperity could not be achieved if his or her employees are working in unsuitable conditions for low wages. Besides, it is impossible to cancel all management in a firm because it would not operate otherwise. Therefore, even though I agree that under a scientific management approach, employees are treated as means of achieving the ends of employers, appropriate policies undertaken by a manager would prevent the destructive consequences of emotional labor proposed by Hochschild.

Reference

Wharton, A. S. (2015). Working in America: Continuity, conflict, and change in a new economic era. Routledge.

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