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Revista Katálysis

On-line version ISSN 1982-0259

Rev. katálysis vol.22 no.2 Florianópolis May/Aug. 2019  Epub Aug 26, 2019 


Ideology and alienation: A necessary relationship

Maria Norma Alcantara Brandão Holanda1

1 Universidade Federal de Alagoas, Faculdade de Serviço Social, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Serviço Social, Maceió, AL, Brazil


This article results from a research1 focused on ideology and alienation as social complexes present in the world of men, and on fundamental determinations that connect these two categories in human thought and praxis. The study aims to reflect on the ontological foundations and roles in society of ideology and alienation, based on the thought of Georg Lukács (2013) in his work Para uma Ontologia do Ser Social [Toward the Ontology of Social Being]. The article is structured in two distinct and connected moments, discussing first ideology and the fundamental base of the concepts. Then, the work debates alienation as an ideological phenomenon, particularly when it comes to reifications and their relevance to the critique of capitalism.

Keywords: Ideology; Alienation; Daily life; Capitalism


Este artigo resulta de uma pesquisa1 voltada para a ideologia e a alienação enquanto complexos sociais presentes no mundo dos homens e para as determinações fundamentais que conectam essas duas categorias no pensamento e na práxis humana. Objetiva refletir sobre seus fundamentos ontológicos e funções na sociedade e toma como principal referência o pensamento de Georg Lukács (2013) em Para uma Ontologia do Ser Social. Estruturado em dois momentos distintos e articulados, expõe sobre ideologia, suas bases fundamentais e sobre alienação como fenômeno também ideológico, particularmente quando se trata das reificações e sua relevância para a crítica ao capitalismo.

Palavras-chave: Ideologia; Alienação; Vida cotidiana; Capitalismo


There are many publications on ideology and alienation, for no other reason than the importance they hold in analyzing different societies, even primitive ones. The Marxian theoretical rigor of Lukács’s (2013) postulations in Para uma Ontologia do Ser Social [Toward the Ontology of Social Being] leads him to an analysis in which work assumes centrality as a fundamental fact, originally bearer of a teleological positing, which is a determination appropriated by Marx (1988) in Capital, in the distinction between the worst architect and the best bees. The work, a founding phenomenon of all social praxis (including economic praxis), the teleological positing only becomes an authentic teleological act when there is material realization. On the other hand, the causal chain - the material part of labor - teleologically in movement, would never arise from the causality of the natural being,2 a circumstance that does not deny that natural causal moments, which exist independently, can become active.

In Lukács (2013) thoughts, there is no methodological dualism in which economics appears mechanically as necessary legality, unrelated to the field of the superstructure, in this case, the field of ideology. The teleological positing that are at the basis of ideology, often mediated in a very complex way by the division of labor, although having a teleological-causal nature, they differ from those of labor. They are different insofar as the ends that provoke and materialize them are not directly aimed at the metabolism of society with nature but intend to influence other people, to lead them to a desired teleological positing. The ideology teleological positing whose function is to address the consciousness of other people are called by Lukács (2013) secondary teleological positing, precisely because they differ from labor (primary teleological positing, whose central function is to characterize itself as an act of consciousness about nature’s objective materiality).

The object of the teleological positing that intend to influence other people’s consciousness is not even close to the object of the teleological positing of labor. In the later, according to Lukács (2013), the discussion is about whether the apprehension of ontological connections from nature is correct. When it comes to influencing other people’s consciousness, the more mediated, the more qualitatively unpredictable is the material. However, there is a decisive common element in both cases: the success or failure of the teleological positing depends on the knowledge that one has of the reality to be transformed, since the subject can proceed correctly so that the forces to be in movement update, as desired, the causal chains that are immanent to them.

These general ontological foundations are also present in the case of alienation, understood as a process of inhumanity socially constructed by people in the daily life of society. In capitalism, as prioritized in this article, one observes the appearance of automation of things and not of acts of human praxis; this is how commodities appear in the process of exchange as if the commodities alone could move. Their movement presupposes relations between buyers and sellers. Marx (1988) had already dissolved this reifying aspect in practical-human teleological acts when stating that commodities do not go by themselves to the market.

This theme is particularly important, since, according to Lukács’ (2013) elaborations, the critique of capitalism necessarily involves an analysis of the forms of alienation it generates and its ideological nature. Both alienation and ideology are originated from everyday life and are directed to everyday life. Therefore, the day-to-day is placed in this relationship as a medium between the general economic structure of society and that of human beings.

Based on these reflections, this article aims to examine the categories of ideology and alienation, their ontological foundations, determinations, and the connections they have to each other. The article is organized into two distinct and connected moments. First, the category of ideology is presented, showing its fundamental bases. Then, the alienation is explored, as a phenomenon that is also ideological (particularly regarding the reifications), as a way of being of alienations in capitalism, an aspect that is observed in the “Lukacsian” ontology.

The choice of the theme results from the research that has been carried out on Lukács’ thinking and his contribution to the criticism of the bourgeois social being.

Ideology’s ontological foundation

The Lukacsian reflection not only on ideology but on all ontology refers to the notion of social totality as a complex of complexes and to work as the ultimate foundation of the relationships operating in the world of men. Lukács (2013) begins the discussion on the problem of ideology by criticizing the double meaning that Gramsci3 (1949, 1967 as cited in Lukács, 2013) attributed to this category. While recognizing the merit of having articulated the ever-stealthy ambiguity of this very important term, Gramsci immediately incurs a conventional abstraction since, even by understanding the superstructure coming from an economic base as an ideology, Gramsci understands the concept in a judgmental sense as an arbitrary formation of the individual’s thought (Lukács, 2013, p. 464). For the Hungarian scholar, as long as an idea remains the product of an individual’s thinking, it cannot be considered ideology, even if it is endowed with value or depreciation (Lukács, 2013). Likewise, even if disseminated relatively broadly, a set of ideas cannot be directly transformed into ideology.

Ideological forms, whether legal, political, religious, artistic, or philosophical, necessarily presuppose a particular function in human-social conflicts. It is that ideal elaboration of reality in which people become aware of the conflicts they experience and face to find solutions. Therefore, ideology - in the Lukacsian sense - is a form of ideal elaboration of reality that acts in human-social conflicts, making human praxis both conscious and operative.

This applies not only to economic revolutions but to the totality of social life because one must not separate the great social crises from the economic process of reproduction. Marxian economics demonstrate the veracity of this argument in that C-M-C metamorphosis; According to Lukács (2013), the possibility of the crisis is already there, and it is not discussed here whether this possibility will become a reality. What is essential is that a radical change of structure and dynamics only emerges when, within the social being, the transition occurs from one formation to another or a decisively new period of formation, a consequence of the development (Lukács, 2013, p. 465).

By bringing this Marxian determination into the daily life of each of the formations, and identifying the ideological forms as a means that can bring into consciousness and face the problems of this daily life, Lukács (2013, p. 465) unites ontologically the two concepts of ideology mentioned by Gramsci (1949, 1967 as cited in Lukács, 2013, p. 465): Ideology is above all the ideal form of elaboration of reality that makes human social praxis conscious and capable of acting. Thus, the conceptions’ necessity and universality emerge in order to address the conflicts of the social being; In this sense, every ideology has its own Geradesosein, or “justbeing-so”: it has its origin immediately and necessarily in the social hic et nunc of men who act socially.

The Lukacsian formulation establishes that, under certain historical circumstances, human reactions to the socioeconomic environment can become ideology and that this universal possibility preserves the marks of its genesis, regardless of whether these marks become imperceptible, which will depend on their functions in social conflicts. In any case, Lukács (2013) argues that ideology is a means of social struggle, which characterizes every society, at least that of the prehistory of humanity. Its judgmental meaning, as false consciousness, comes from this role as a means of social struggle. However, being true or false does not make from a point of view an ideology. A true or false point of view, a scientific hypothesis or a theory, being true or false, per se, are not ideologies, as observed. They can be converted into ideology only after they have become a theoretical or practical vehicle for confronting and resolving social conflicts, be they to a greater or lesser extent, episodic, or even when determining the destinies of the world (Lukács, 2013, p. 467).

Therefore, regardless of how ideologies are manifested throughout history, whether through traditions, religious convictions, scientific theories, and methods, for example, they must realize the social function of being means of struggle within human-social conflicts. In addressing these elements, Lukács (2013) pointed out the broad and exact sense of ideology.4 Therefore, the gnoseology will not be the solution to clarify the differentiation between ideology and non-ideology, but it is up to the social role to decide whether something becomes an ideology, and the gnoseology, by its very essence, does not have a say on that (Lukács, 2013, p. 569).

Turning to the history of heliocentric astronomy or the theory of organic development, Lukacs (2013) realizes that the fact that both are scientific theories, true or false, does not make them ideologies. It was only after the use of the positions based on the conceptions of Galileo and Darwin as a means to fight against the social antagonisms present at that moment in human history that they became operating ideologies. The concrete sense of ideology for Lukacs (2013, p. 468) is broader than that of the exact concept, inasmuch as the passage of an idea to the ideological sphere can take place on the path traveled through multiple mediations, including in such a way that only in the process of mediation this transformation becomes a fact. This means that, in the social being, nothing takes place whose upcoming is not self-determined. This apparent tautology falls apart when, without excluding the biological determination immanent to the reproduction of the social being, such determinations become increasingly social.

Thus, there is no component, from feeding to sexuality, until the abstract externalization of an idea (Gedankenäužerungen), of the social being whose concrete just-being-so is not essentially co-determined by the social circumstances of its birth. This is the only meaning of the most general of the determinations of ideology (Lukács, 2013, p. 469).

It is precisely in these aspects formulated above that one finds the concreteness of the human as a social being, the universal sociability and all vital manifestations, observed from the most primordial acts, as is the case of labor and language, to the other objectification of life in society. Both, objectification and externalization, fundamental components of all human acts, have this double nature: on the one hand, they determine all vital manifestations in a universal and therefore generalizing way; on the other, and simultaneously, they form their specifically social uniqueness (Lukács, 2013, p. 469). Uniqueness is present in all things and processes. Fingerprints, for example, denote the uniqueness of a person in biological terms; at the social level, the uniqueness represents a complex synthesis between the teleological positing and the reactions to the positing from other, regulated by the individual. The resulting personal unity, according to Lukács (2013), also has a dual objective character inseparably unitary. On the one hand, the personal dimension (essence) of the individual is objectified in the way they react to the alternatives posed by life; on the other hand, and at the same time, however, the alternatives are socially determined, result from the social hic et nunc in which man lives and acts. Therefore, the choices made in the face of the possibilities encountered are at the essence of the individual as a natural person.

In this sense, it is possible to say that being a person, achieving personal success, and reacting in a specific way to the historical-social just-being-so, are two sides that integrate the same complex. Moreover - against certain prejudices - the more developed the personality, the higher the success (Lukács, 2013, p. 470).

On these reflections, Marx and Engels (1993, p. 54) rightly mentioned that the true spiritual wealth of the individual depends on the richness of their real relations, hence the claim that it is not consciousness that determines life, but the life that determines consciousness (Marx & Engels, 1993, p. 37) clearly demonstrates its remission to an awareness of individuals who have a practical activity. Therefore, all personal achievements, be they practical, intellectual, artistic, or other dimensions, are determined by the social being in which the individual lives and acts. This is the foundation of all science concerning society.

Ideology presupposes the existence of social conflicts whose immediate ontological bearers are the singular men. That is why, on an immediate level, all conflicts are also manifested as clashes of interests between singular men or between the singular men and human groups or between two human groups (Lukács, 2013, p. 471). However, the strictest and most precise determination of ideology is that men become conscious and, with the help of ideologies, they engage in their social conflicts whose ultimate foundations lie in economic development. According to Lukács (2013, p. 471), the analysis of this limited area simultaneously provides the key to a more concrete understanding of a larger area, especially by uncovering the real ontological links between the two.

Therefore, it is possible to conclude that the existence of ideology presumes social conflicts that are primarily locked in the socioeconomic field, with consequent development in their specific concrete forms, in each concrete society. Because people are the immediate ontological bearers of all social activity, including conflicts, antagonistic interests between them can only be effectively addressed when members of a group are convinced that their vital interests coincide with essential interests of society in general. It does not matter whether this

is imposed by conviction, through frank or veiled violence, through manipulations. This does not contribute to determine if these constitute an ideology or to confirm that the content corresponds to the tendencies of the time or if it is opposed to these tendencies. Neither does it matter if what guides the ideologically determined action is sincere or hypocritical. Although these aspects are decisive for the historical-social evaluation of the singular ideologies’ content, they are not determinant of the ideology in general terms.

The main issue is that the emergence of such ideologies assumes that social structures in which different antagonistic groups and interests act and aim to impose these interests on society as a whole as their general interest. In short: the emergence and spread of ideologies manifest themselves as the general trademark of class societies (Lukács, 2013, p. 472).

If it is true that the social structure of each society determines interests, the existence of ideology is not a particularity of a society of classes. Antagonistic interests were not present in societies with no social classes, where the property of the means of production, or the exploitation of people by people were not possible. However, ideology is present also in these societies, with content that is entirely different from that which arises from the Neolithic Revolution (the period of agriculture and livestock). Thus, keeping the exact meaning of Lukács’ (2013) concept of ideology, in which men try to impose their interests on the whole of society, the notion of ideology experiences a certain expansion and its genesis appears somewhat modified (Lukács, 2013, p. 472). The broad sense of ideology implies a certain social generalization of behaviors, of norms of human action present and necessary for the social reproduction of this period of hunting and gathering. At this point, the embryonic forms of what will become important in the ideologies that arise with social classes are observed.

According to Lukács (2013, p. 473), because hunting dangerous beasts particularly requires very different modes of reaction, the behaviors determined as imperatively necessary by the practice of hunting emerge, at least simultaneously, with labor, but also earlier, and more intensively, due to its social importance.

Lukacs (2013) supposes that the germs of conflict between the community and the singular man arise in the primitive times and that it would be a metaphysical prejudice to consider that there was a total identity of the social conscience of each person. Therefore, elements of ideology were already present in the earliest stages of social development, as is the case of what scientific research works find in archaeological studies and cave paintings. The latter clearly show that when favorable circumstances produce relative prosperity and thus leisure, societies of this kind can create products of great value (Lukács, 2013, p. 478).

In short, some ideological elements go back to the beginnings of social development, a fact that does not deny the ideological problems arising from the class struggle as later results, but, at the same time, it requires determining, in a broader way, its social function and, therefore, its genesis and effect (Lukács, 2013, p. 478). However, this in no way alters the fundamental problem: the social function of ideology requires interference in social conflicts, which does not mean unrestricted and exclusive restraint to class conflicts. In primitive societies, the class conflicts appear only in a latent way, given the underdeveloped conditions at that time of human history. As for the meaning of ideology as a function in class conflicts, it will take place much later, manifested only in societies based on the exploitation of people by people. It is only then that ideology acquires an exact nature, although with the possibility of operating as a false consciousness (and for that very reason the ideology also acquires a negative sense). However, this does not mean that all ideology is false consciousness, nor that there is an identity between science and ideology.

All work has an immediate objective, which is the reproduction of one’s own life, necessary for its preservation, an immediacy that is imposed on human. However, this immediacy can only be realized as the primary foundation of human existence if it suppresses itself (Lukács, 2013, p. 483). In this sense, the teleological positing that stands between need and satisfaction brings with it this suppression, because each teleological positing contains the possibility (in the Aristotelian sense of objectifying) of stimulating other positing, since the work refers to the person besides the work itself.

It is important to observe that these teleological positing, which Lukács (2013) calls secondary, are aimed at provoking a new behavior in other people and acquire increasing importance as the productive forces develop. It is crucial to understand that the (primary) teleological positing of labor starts a causal series, while the secondary unleashes a new teleological positing. This is of particular importance to our problem, on the one hand, because the secondary teleological positing constitute the ontological basis of ideology and, on the other hand, they have as object the consciousness of other people, which makes it impossible to exercise control such as that required in the metabolism with nature.

Ideology, Alienation, and day-to-day life

Marx (2003) had demonstrated since the Manuscritos de Paris [The Paris Manuscripts] that the development of the productive forces is simultaneously a development to a higher level of human, even if this occurs inhumanly. This is precisely what happens from the society of classes, but not as mechanical effects since men who are embroiled in conflicts usually act rather spontaneously, directly motivated by what we call the ontology of everyday life (Lukács, 2013, p. 561). In everyday life, the immediate experiences of people are decisive and largely influenced by ideologies. In this way, it is possible to reflect on the relationship between ideology and alienation, considering the particularity this relationship assumes in capitalism.5

Against the prejudices of the ontology of everyday life, derived from the vulgar Marxism and the idealistic overestimation of the young Hegelians,6 Lukács (2013) makes clear that this is the complex problem of reification,7 whose natural starting point in the spontaneous ontology of everyday life is that much of the concrete data of nature is immediately found in the phenomenal form of things (Lukács, 2013, p. 550). For Lukács (2013), it is necessary to understand the objectified thing, based on its genetic process. When disregarding its genesis, things are apprehended as ready and finished (Lukács, 2013, p. 550).

When asked about their (the things) emergence, there is usually mention to a transcendent creator. This is what occurred in the myths such as Prometheus, to explain the use of fire, which objectively was undoubtedly a product of human activity; it is the same case observed later in the myths about the essence and power of money, and others, which even penetrate science and philosophy (Lukács, 2013, pp. 550-551).

The problem of reification in the context of Ontology lies in the formulations on the ideological aspects of alienation, typical of capitalism. Lukács (2013) considers reification as a kind of reflection8 of the objective world that requires an ontological examination of causality to be correctly understood. According to the author, despite the mastery of consciousness over physical-chemical and physiological processes is a reality unleashed by the labor process, the existence of things is, by no means, mere appearance, not even a mere phenomenon. It is a form of being that, under certain circumstances, makes the natural fundamental processes of the being disappear in the immediacy (Lukács, 2013, p. 662).

According to Lukács (2013), Marx observes the process as primary data in nature, highlighting the development of the Earth as a process that, even in a constant qualitative transformation, maintains in the change a certain relative consistency in its objectivity. In this sense, work - which is a process itself - may in part make a natural process directly useful to man, in part he transforms one thing into something else - once again into a useful thing - for example, he transforms a stone into a tool (Lukács, 2013, p. 662).

When Marx (1988, pp. 143-144) argues, for example, that the spinner does not treat the spindle as a product of past labor, i.e., as a social objectification, but as a material with which he spins, it is evidencing a reification. However, this is what Lukacs (2013, p. 663) calls spontaneous reifications, in the exact sense of conditioned reflexes. Lukács (2013) uses the example of an electric bulb that, when turning it on or off, it does not occur to anyone that it is the case of starting or interrupting a process. This is because the electric process has become a thing of everyday life, a spontaneous reification that does not become conscious. Everyday life is replete with this kind of reification. In a general sense: whenever a process, whether in production or in commerce or consumption, is no longer conscious, but is conducted by conditioned reflexes, the processes to be thought about are spontaneously turned into things (Lukács, 2013, p. 663). In this sense, in daily life the river, as a rule, is as objectified as the boat that sails there (Lukács, 2013, pp. 663-664).

These processes described above have, in their essence, no direct relation to actual reifications. The actual reifications are originally found, according to Marxian postulation, in the structure of the commodity as a “ghostly objectivity” in which both the material products and the processes of production become a mixture of undifferentiated human labor, of use of human labor, disregarding the way it is used, as in Marx’s (1988) work. This is the basis for what Lukács (2013, p. 665) calls socially relevant reification.

As stated by Marx (1988, p. 71), the mystery of the commodity consists, therefore, simply in the fact that it reflects to men the social characteristics of their work as objective characteristics of the products of the work, as the natural social features of these things and therefore reflects the social relation of producers with total labor as a social relation existing outside them, between objects. Through this muddle, the products of labor become commodities, metaphysical, or social physical things. It is nothing more than a certain social relation among men that assumes the ghostly form of a relation between things.

It is no coincidence, observes Lukács (2013) that Marx associates this ghostly objectivity with religious alienations. However, the focus here is to observe that the work in the sense of the exchange of society with nature is the predominant moment, independent of the degree of development of the productive forces. In this sense, there is no ontological difference for humans between grinding rock in the pre-history period and crumbling atoms in the present day. It does not matter whether the work has a teleological positing with scientific knowledge. The fact is that in its practical execution no reification can take place in its proper sense. In practice, the worker must treat each thing as a thing, every process as a process (Lukács, 2013, p. 667). Otherwise, the intended purpose will not be realized.

The way subjective consciousness expresses itself in this process, whether in a reified form or not, does not matter at all. The ghostly objective form of exchange value creates, in an increasingly intense way, reifications that in capitalism are converted into alienations. Or rather, in the peculiar way of being capitalist alienations. Therefore, it is impossible to understand reification and alienation, leaving aside its historical-economic determinations.

The reification described by Marx (1988) as necessarily inherent to the exchange of commodities, in ideological terms, in general, it tends to lead to self-reification of man and his vital processes. As for this study, it is important for the problem addressed that the different relations between ideology and alienation occur from ideology in the exact sense of the word, as an instrument to mediate conflicts within class societies whose interests are opposed to each other. Only when the exploitation of people by people emerges, the ideology acquires the possibility of operating as a false consciousness (which is the reason for the negative aspect attribute for this exploitation, as observed before). It is this field of singular ideologies that provides an environment for alienation.

Given the arguments presented here, to unravel the essence of the reification processes and to pursue their specific determinations, it is indispensable the proper knowledge of the ideological moments of alienation.

Final Considerations

This article is an effort to understand ideology and alienation, and their relationship based on the work Para uma Ontologia do Ser Social [Toward the Ontology of Social Being], by George Lukács (2013). In this work, ideology and alienation are considered as decisive for the radical critique of the society of classes, in particular of capitalism, a mode of production that brings peculiarities in the way of being of both ideology and alienation. Despite the incompleteness present in the Lukacsian reflections on alienation, the author provides elements that contribute significantly to the thinking of the present society. Its ontological foundations, as seen, point to an antithesis between the development of productive forces and the growth of social individualities.

Ideology, in turn, constitutes an ideal mode of elaboration of reality whose primary aspect is to have a role in human-social conflicts. On the one hand, people produce generalizations that help them to recognize and confront the conflicts of daily life in the process of social reproduction. On the other hand, without dissociating from the first aspect, there is the exact sense of ideology as an instrument of social struggle in historical circumstances of interests that are antagonistic, therefore, class interests. In ontological terms, it is precisely the social role of ideology that connects it to the forms of alienation that have emerged since the first society of classes, slavery. It is in capitalism, however, that these relations will assume reifying forms based on the spectral character of the commodity.

For Lukács (2013) the alienations denote an ideological nature based on the immediacy of everyday life, often expressed in the way of being of real reifications, those that are characterized as alienations. Its ontological foundations lie in the commodity fetish as exposed by Marx (1988) in Capital. With the universalization of consumption and services in the global commodity trade, the having category, which emerge with the notion of private property, assumes a decisive role in the fundamental relations of men with the environment in which they live, in order to make them increasingly alienated. The (bourgeois) ideology here assumes a fundamental role in the sense of manipulating the consciousness to absorb needs that are characteristic of the reproduction of capital, as human needs.

The point here is to act on the conscience of people to trigger new teleological positing, in this case, aimed at strengthening the status quo. This is not to say that ideology is restricted to this aspect, since the ideological forms are legal, political, religious, artistic, or philosophical, and they have a specific role also presuppose a determined function in human-social conflicts, an ideal elaboration of reality in which the human becomes aware and confront the conflicts experienced.


I would like to give special thanks to two people: Sérgio Lessa, who introduced me in the 1990s to Lukács, and with whom I learned a lot over the years; and Gilmaisa Macedo da Costa, for the always relevant observations to improve this manuscript.


Costa, G. M. (2011). Serviço Social em debate: Ser social, trabalho, ideologia. Maceió, Brazil: Edufal. [ Links ]

Konder, L. (2009). Marxismo e alienação: Contribuição para um estudo do conceito marxista de alienação (2nd ed.). São Paulo, Brazil: Expressão Popular. [ Links ]

Lukács, G. (2013). Para uma ontologia do ser social II [Toward the ontology of social being II] (N. Schneider, Trans.). São Paulo, Brazil: Boitempo. [ Links ]

Marx, K. (1988). O capital: Crítica da economia política [Capital: Critique of political economy] (R. Barbosa & F. R. Kothe, Trans., 3rd ed., Vols. 1-3). São Paulo, Brazil: Nova Cultural. [ Links ]

Marx, K. (2003). Manuscritos econômico-filosóficos [Economic and philosophic manuscripts] (A. Marins, Trans.). São Paulo, Brazil: Martin Claret. [ Links ]

Marx, K., & Engels, F. (1993). A ideologia alemã [The German ideology] (J. C. Bruni & M. A. Nogueira, Trans., 9th ed.). São Paulo, Brazil: Hucitec. [ Links ]

Paulo Netto, J. (1981). Capitalismo e reificação. São Paulo, Brazil: Ciências Humanas. [ Links ]


1 These are unfolding of the research that the author has been developing after her doctorate, whose methodology has been immanent text analysis.

2The laws of nature would never give rise to a table, for example, or any other social objectivity.

3As this article is focused on the analysis by Lukács (2013), it is not my intention to expand this reflection to the discussion on ideology in Gramsci’s point of view.

4Costa (2011), in the book Serviço Social em Debate: ser social, trabalho, ideologia [Debates Social Work: Social Being, Labor, Ideology], published by Edufal, an extended and clarifying discussion on these two aspects of the ideology in Lukács.

5Leandro Konder (2009), unlike some Marxists, reveals a continuity between the concept of alienation elaborated in the Manuscritos de 1844 [Manuscripts of 1844] (the so-called The Paris Manuscripts), and the later development of Marx’s thought, which underlies several categories he analyzed. We do not believe that it would be difficult to demonstrate that the “commodity fetishism” studied in Capital represents an in-depth examination of one aspect of alienation, i.e., of economic alienation under capitalist society (Konder, 2009, p. 38).

6Such prejudices can be summarized when Lukács, starting from the formulation of Marx and Engels (2003) in the work A Ideologia Alemã [The German Ideology] - about the fact that men, in developing their material production and exchange, also transform their reality, thinking, and the products of their thinking (Marx & Engels, 2007, p. 94 as cited in Lukács, 2013, p. 549) - criticizes the interpretations of this Marxian formulation by both vulgar Marxism and of Hegelian idealism. The vulgar Marxism concluded that all the non-strictly economic products of mankind would be in direct and mechanical dependence on the economy (Lukács, 2013, p. 550). As for the bourgeois theories reflected in the Hegelian idealism, they protest any derivation of ideal modes of externalization from socio-economic foundations, claiming a totally autonomous, immanentautonomous development, which can only be determined by legalities that are entirely internal to singular areas. It is possible to assume, one can speak here of determination (Lukács, 2013, p. 550).

7In Capitalismo e Reificação [Capitalism and Reification], Paulo Netto (1981, p. 61) states that what distinguishes the Marxian imposition in the approach of the alienation in 1844 from the further thematization of fetishism, is the historical-social materialization to which Marx submits the object of his investigation. That is to say, the problematic of fetishism undergoes an analysis determined by the social relations of production that people establish among themselves, under precise circumstances. For this reason, the formulations on the problematic of fetishism present historical-economic determinations that are overcome when addressing alienation: they refer to a phenomenon and seize its specificity. It is no longer the alienation of modern man, abstractly opposed to the man of the Greek polis. These determinations denote the characteristic expression of the typical alienation engendered by capitalism, the reification.

8The Lukacsian conception of reflex considers social objectivity as the predominant moment, it refers, therefore, to the ideal reproduction of the real movement of the object.

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Received: October 07, 2018; Accepted: November 20, 2018; Revised: April 02, 2019

Maria Norma Alcantara Brandão Holanda Doctor of Social Work from Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) Professor at the Faculty of Social Work of the Universidade Federal de Alagoas (UFAL)


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Competing interests

There are no competing interests.

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