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The Complete Vocabulary Builder Workbook



How to pronounce proletariat (audio)

Dictionary definition of proletariat

A term for working-class people, or the lowest social and economic group in a society.
"Class conflict is primarily a struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat."

Detailed meaning of proletariat

The Proletariat is a term used to describe the working class, or the class of people who do not own the means of production and are dependent on selling their labor to survive. It is a term that originated in Marxist theory and is used to describe the class of people who do not own the means of production, such as factories, land, or tools, and are therefore forced to sell their labor to survive. They are typically considered to be in opposition to the capitalist class, or bourgeoisie, who own the means of production and control the economy.

In Marxist theory, the Proletariat is seen as a revolutionary class that will eventually overthrow the bourgeoisie and establish a socialist or communist society. This is because, according to Marxism, the Proletariat is the class that has the most to gain from a revolution and will therefore be the driving force behind it.

The term has been used in different historical and social contexts, in modern times, it is often used to refer to the working class as a whole, regardless of their level of education, skills, or occupation. It is also used to describe the economic and social conditions of people who work for low wages and lack access to power, privilege and wealth.

Example sentences containing proletariat

1. The proletariat typically consists of workers who lack access to capital or the means of production.
2. Historically, revolutions have often been driven by the discontent of the proletariat.
3. Marx argued that the struggle of the proletariat would eventually lead to a socialist society.
4. Despite their lowly status, the proletariat make up the majority of the population.
5. The prosperity of a nation is largely dependent on the well-being of its proletariat.
6. The bourgeois often overlook the plight of the proletariat.

History and etymology of proletariat

The noun 'proletariat' has a historical etymology that connects it to the socio-economic dynamics of ancient Rome. Its origins can be traced to the Latin word 'proletarius,' which referred to a citizen of the lowest class, characterized by their lack of property and their contribution to society primarily through bearing children or 'proles.' In Roman society, the proletarii were not considered part of the productive labor force, and their role was limited to reproduction. This concept was later revived during the 19th century in the context of industrialization and the emerging class struggle. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels popularized the term 'proletariat' to describe the working-class individuals who owned no means of production and had to sell their labor to survive. This etymological journey from ancient Rome to the modern class struggle underscores the enduring relevance of the term 'proletariat' in discussions of social and economic inequality.

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Further usage examples of proletariat

1. The proletariat class has a powerful role to play in society's transformation.
2. The widening wealth gap is causing an increasing dissatisfaction among the proletariat.
3. The proletariat are the backbone of the manufacturing industry.
4. The rise of technology has had a significant impact on the job security of the proletariat.
5. As part of the proletariat, he understood the hardships of living paycheck to paycheck.
6. The working conditions of the proletariat during the industrial revolution were dire.
7. Trade unions are important advocates for the rights of the proletariat.
8. The exploitation of the proletariat is a central theme in socialist literature.
9. The novel gives an accurate depiction of the struggles faced by the proletariat.
10. Politicians need to consider the needs and interests of the proletariat when making policy decisions.
11. The proletariat class is often in a vulnerable position due to economic inequalities.
12. The potential power of the united proletariat should not be underestimated.
13. The living conditions of the proletariat improved significantly in the 20th century.
14. Despite facing many challenges, the proletariat has shown a strong capacity for resilience and solidarity.



working class, aristocracy, elite, upper class


GRE 11 (Graduate Record Examination), Authority and Control, Governance and Authority, Social Hierarchy and Relationships, Social Status and Hierarchy

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