De empirisch-operationele benadering van vervreemding
theoretical studies of alienation
A critical theoretical discussion of studies of alienation shows the need for a theory of the concept. Discussed are studies which take an empirical-operational approach. Characteristic for these studies is the partial view of the term alienation & the lack of definition of its content. The studies of M. Seeman, based on a systematic analysis of the concept, seem to form an exception. He considers alienation as the central theme of sociology. He differentiates the concept from a social-psychological point of view: powerlessness, meaninglessness, lack of norm, solitude from isolation, & self-alienation. The systematic theory of alienation at the base of Seeman's work is the theory of social learning & the theory of the mass-society: social learning would be influenced by a feeling of powerlessness caused by the process of rationalization. Lack of control over & understanding of a situation would contribute to the feeling of powerlessness. Seeman verified his statement through experiments in a hospital & in a reformatory. His experiments do not involve concrete questions. He does not specify the nature of the control, & thus has no explanation for alienation of eg, intellectuals in an environment of determinism. The 5 categories are mostly determined by an emotional condition of the individual without relating systematically the emotions & the social conditions. Consequently there is a tendency to mystification. These weaknesses are the result of his nondialectical method. They show also the influence of the ideology of the bourgeois mass society: man controls his own environment or needs to have the impression that he does. K. Dillman.