The proletariat is a social class consisting of wage earners or individuals who sell their labor for a wage in capitalist societies. The term is derived from the Latin word “proles,” meaning “offspring,” indicating the proletarians’ lack of property or means of production.

Characteristics of the Proletariat:
  • No Ownership: The proletariat do not have significant ownership of property, machinery, or other means of production.

  • Dependence on Wages: Their livelihood depends on selling their labor in exchange for wages, making them vulnerable to economic fluctuations.

  • Exploitation: Proletarians often experience exploitation, as they must sell their labor power to capitalists who generate profits by appropriating surplus value.

  • Collective Identity: The proletariat is characterized by a shared class consciousness, recognizing their common interests against the bourgeoisie, the capitalist class.

  • Revolutionary Potential: Historically, the proletariat has been viewed as a revolutionary class with the potential to overthrow capitalism and establish a more equitable society.

Examples of the Proletariat:

Examples of the proletariat include factory workers, construction laborers, retail employees, service industry workers, and others who do not possess significant capital or means of production.