Alienation from work: Marxist ideologies and 21st century practice

A. Shantz, K. Alfes, C. Truss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


This paper responds to calls for research that takes into consideration the broader ideologies underpinning the employment relationship within capitalist societies by building and testing a model of work alienation. We examine how three work-related factors identified originally by Karl Marx act as precursors of alienation, that is, a disconnection of oneself from work, that are experienced in the modern workplace, namely the extent to which voice behaviours are enacted, whether an individual perceives his or her skills to be used in the course of work, and a lack of perceived meaningfulness of work. Further, we investigate whether alienation leads to emotional exhaustion and stifles well-being. Data from 227 employees in a manufacturing organisation in the UK support this model, in that a lack of voice, person–job fit and meaningfulness lead to alienation at work, and emotional exhaustion and lower levels of well-being are its consequences. The present study demonstrates that alienation should be a focal point for human resource management scholars in the twenty-first century.
Keywords: alienation, emotional exhaustion, meaningfulness, person–job fit, voice, well-being
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2529-2550
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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