Women’s Reproductive Autonomy and Alienation: Revisiting the Original Conceptualization and Operationalization of Alienation in the 21st Century

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Brian SULLIVAN, University of Houston, USA
Rebecca COSTANTINI, Texas A&M University, USA
Contemporary empirical research has failed to conceptualize and operationalize measurements for alienation. Empirical researchers during the late 1950s and early 1960s crafted measures in an attempt to define what constitutes alienation. Seeman (1959) and Dean (1961) introduced a series of five measures through a collective evaluation of Hegel, Marx, Weber and DeGrazia: (1) powerlessness; (2) meaninglessness; (3) normlessness; (4) isolation; (5) self-estrangement. However, during the past four decades, a pivot toward understanding how trust and efficacy perpetuates alienation has overshadowed the initial intentions of explicating the concept’s original measures. We posit that trust and efficacy do not operationalize alienation but are a part of the broader concept, as they lead to the causes of alienation. Trust and efficacy as a replacement for alienation is a common misconception in recent literature. An evaluation of the recent literature shows that some scholars deviate away from Seeman (1959) and Dean’s (1961) conceptualization and operationalization of alienation and focus on trust and efficacy as defining factors of alienation (Southwell, 2012). Other contemporary scholars overlook the initial framework altogether and utilize trust and efficacy as the sole measurements of alienation. Therefore, we seek to restore and reassert the validity of alienation’s initial framework of origin by revisiting the five measurement tenets through the examination of women’s reproductive autonomy. We examine women’s reproductive autonomy in the initial alienation framework to 1) demonstrate the validity of the framework in the context of a relevant sociopolitical issue and 2) address the detrimental effects alienation has on women in contemporary political society.