# The Alienation of the Proletariat: An Explanation and Critique of Marx's Theory of Estranged LaborClaudia KelleyCollege

In a colloquial context, a state of ‘alienation’ is one in which an individual is excluded or isolated from a group with whom that individual belongs or should be involved (Merriam-Webster, 2015). However, in the context of Marxist theory, ‘alienation’ is the state of existence for an entire sector of -- in fact, the majority of -- society. This concept developed by Karl Marx, aptly named the Theory of Estranged Labor, explores the notion that, within a Capitalistic regime, the working class members of the labor force -- the proletariat, who comprise the majority of the population -- are intrinsically alienated due to the inherent lack of wealth distribution and equity present within an economic system based upon class hierarchy. As demonstrated by Marx’s 1844 text “Estranged Labor”, as well as critiques of this theory by Bertell Ollman (Alienation: “The Theory of Alienation”, 1976) and John Holloway (Historical Materialism: “A Note on Alienation”, 1997), the process of labor, the product of labor, and the act of production interact with one another. These forces also function within the larger context of the class dichotomy between property owners and propertyless workers -- the bourgeois and the proletariat. Additionally,...