What is Alienation?

Meaning of alienation

In everyday life, science or philosophy , the concept of alienation takes on various roles and meanings. However, these meanings can be seen as variations on the same broad meaning, alienation as the act by which one becomes alien to someone else or to something . The result of such an act, whether someone’s in relation to something or the opposite, is also called alienation.

In this sense, alienation is : to transform human properties, relationships and actions into properties and actions of things, which are independent of man.

Other definitions that alienation is a detachment from oneself , a process by which man considers himself through his actions as alien to his own nature, seeing himself as a ” thing ” (reification), withdrawing from human nature.


In terms of society , alienation is a concept approached and developed by various classical and contemporary theorists as a condition in social relations manifested by a low degree of integration or common values, and a high degree of distance or isolation between individuals, or still between an individual and a group of people, in a living environment.

The concept has many specific uses depending on the discipline that uses it, but it can generally refer to a personal psychological state (subjective) or a type of social relationship (objectively).


Philosophically, the concept of alienation was first elaborated by the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. According to Hegel, alienation is an essential characteristic of man (the finite mind).

Alienation occurs through the production of things , to be expressed in objects, be they physical things, cultural products, or social institutions. This Hegel called objectification, which according to the philosopher is a form of alienation . Man-made objects become alien to man himself by assuming his own form and function.


Some authors have argued that the concept of alienation can be found in its first form in the Old Testament when it introduces the concept of idolatry. According to others, however, the Christian doctrine of original sin and redemption can be seen as an early version of the doctrine of alienation , similar to that espoused by Hegel.

However, since Hegel sees nature as an alienating form of Absolute Mind (or Absolute Spirit, or even God), the source of Hegel’s concept of alienation is more likely to be found in Plato when he presents his interpretation of the world. natural as an imperfect image of the world of ideas.

Types of Alienation


The chattel mortgage or  fiduciary alienation is related to the right of property, which is under the real right of guarantee. According to royal law, alienation means the assignment of a good or thing to a third party.

It occurs when a buyer buys an asset on credit and the lender takes his own asset as collateral, so that the buyer cannot trade the asset with third parties.

Let’s take this example of buying a property that is purchased through a bank loan, to be paid in monthly installments.

During the period of payment of the installments, the property is not yet registered in the name of the buyer, the registration will only occur after the payment of all the installments. If the loan is not paid, the property is collateral and can be taken by the lender.


Parental alienation occurs when a child’s parent causes the child to disown, reject, or hate the other spouse. This term was used for the first time by the psychiatrist Richard Gardner in 1985, designating the concept of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS).

In this case, one of the parents (or another responsible person) “ trains ” the child to break emotional ties with the other parent, developing strong feelings of anxiety and fear towards the other parent.

Parental alienation is seen as ” brainwashing “, it is considered an interference in the psychological formation of the child.


The philosophy of law , in the eighteenth century, approached alienation as the renunciation of some individual liberties in favor of the state, that is, when one renounced rights for the benefit of the state.

In the philosophical sense, alienation means the process or state in which something or someone is or becomes an individual alien to himself (distant, unknown or alien, for example).

One loses the real notion of one’s identity and worth as an individual . For this reason, in philosophy alienation is related to the concept of “ existential emptiness ”.


Social alienation refers to a mental state of the human being and is studied by sociology. In this state of mind, he may not understand that he is also the creator of society and politics, and accepts everything without question.

Social alienation disables the independent thinking of the individual and comes to accept everything as natural, rational or divine. This means that he is not fully aware that he is also part of society, its social processes and relationships.

A consequence of this type of alienation is the social isolation of the individual, which can be motivated by various reasons. This type of alienation is considered the opposite of critical thinking, for example.

Alienation of Assets

The disposition of property is the act or effect of disposing of a property or asset, that is, assigning possession to another person.

Any property can be sold: personal property, real estate or financial securities, such as the sale of the right to receive credit.

Some public assets can also be disposed of. For example, in some situations, the law allows public property to be sold to a private individual.

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