a term from Marxist philosophy referring to the feeling that people experience of being estranged from key aspects of their social existence. Examples would include a feeling of powerlessness within society or of being depersonalised within some large, faceless bureaucracy. In the educational world, some teenagers who find the school system, its processes and demands, to be out of line with their own lives and cultural identity, and to be beyond their power to influence, experience alienation as a result.