Critical Theory of Alienated Labor in Japan

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Seminarsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Reo MAWATARI, The University of Tokyo, Japan
The increasing acceleration of globalization has negatively effected the alienation of human labor. In Japan, the change from regular employees to non-regular employees has been caused by japanese "Shin-jiyuusyugi"(what is called neoliberalism). As a result, the low pay and long hours spreads fast and broadly. The accumulation and concentration of wealth in the high-income class has occurred.

Critical Theory of Society could deal with this problem.This presentation focuses especially on Herbert Marcuse(1898-1979). He is known as one of the key persons of the first generation of Critical Theorists.
“Neue Quellen zur Grundlegung des Historischen Materialismus”(1932) is the pioneering work on interpretation of“Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844”, which is written by Karl Marx. Marcuse's paper is concerned with the liberation from alienated labor. He thinks that labor overcomes economic production through comprehending "Dasein" ontologically.

It is true that his unique understanding of labor is regarded as utopian notion. In additon, he is interested in Fourier's Utopian Socialism(See Eros and Civilization). In Eros and Civilization(1955) or One-Dimensional Man(1964), Marcuse seems to be "technological determinist". The progress of technology decreases labor time and makes conditions for qualitative change of labor.

However, it is important to reconsider the essence of human labor and to imagine civilization without repression, "performance principle". Therefore, the author attempts to reconstruct Marcuse's critical theory of society, focusing on his acceptance of Marx's theory of alienation and genealogy of utopian socialism and to analyse contemporary japanese society, focusing on labor problems and pathology. Considering context from 1930s to the present day, the presentation contributes to this session not only from non-Western perspective but also from universal sociological theory.