Sociology Index

Lumpenproletariat

The term lumpenproletariat was coined by Karl Marx in The German Ideology in the course of a critique of Max Stirner. Stirner frequently used the term Lumpe, but never used the term “lumpenproletariat.” Lumpen originally meant “rags,” was later to be used to mean “a person in rags.” Lumpenproletariat came to mean “riff-raff” or “knave.” The term lumpenproletariat was applied to slum workers or the mob. The term lumpenproletariat identifies the class of outcast and submerged elements that make up the population of industrial centers.

Lumpenproletariat includes beggars, prostitutes, racketeers, petty criminals, tramps, persons who have been cast out by industry, and all sorts of declassed or degraded elements. In Marxist terminology the lumpenprolertariat are the dregs of humanity without interest in attaining class consciousness. Lumpenproletariat used to be a word that was frequently used when people took the Communist Party seriously. In times of depression many people are pushed into this limbo of lumpenproletariat.

Lumpenproletariat was later to be used freely as a prefix to perjorative terms.