"transfer of ownership," late 14c., from Old French alienacion and directly from Latin alienationem (nominative alienatio) "a transfer, surrender," noun of action from past participle stem of alienare (see alienate). It also meant "loss or derangement of mental faculties, insanity" (late 15c.), hence alienist. Phrase alienation of affection as a U.S. legal term in divorce cases for "falling in love with someone else" dates to 1861.
A feeling of separation or isolation. In social science, alienation is associated with the problems caused by rapid social change, such as industrialization and urbanization (seeIndustrial Revolution), which has broken down traditional relationships among individuals and groups and the goods and services they produce.
Alienation is most often associated with minorities, the poor, the unemployed, and other groups who have limited power to bring about changes in society.
Marxism holds that workers in capitalist nations are alienated because they have no claim to ownership of the products they make.