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Prolet is the colloquial abbreviation of the term “ proletarian ” and has been a derogatory term for members of the urban underclass , especially industrial workers, but since the rise of Marxism also positive workers in the context of class struggle since the 19th century .

After 1945 there was a shift in meaning. Today is prole - in another, colloquial shortening also Proll , Prol or pro lo - as an insult and as a derogatory term for people from bildungsfernem environment used and whose manners and lifestyle as for those uncultured be felt. There is thus a shift in meaning from “member of the proletariat” in the direction of “member of the mob ” and thus a reinforcement of the pejorative-discriminatory connotation .

History and present

The word “Prolet” is just like “Proll” an abbreviation of the term “Proletarian”. This term, in turn, is derived from the Latin word proletarii , which was used in antiquity to refer to all Roman citizens of the lowest social class who could only call their descendants (proles) their own. It was reflected primarily the derogatory and contemptuous attitude of all the higher social classes resist, but primarily the nobility, patrician and plebeian Nobilitas , against all uneducated and neglected workers. In contrast to the slaves, the proletarii were free Roman citizens who were responsible for their own fate, but from the perspective of the upper classes could not make anything of themselves due to a lack of property and training.

The term "Prolet" was taken up again in the course of the workers' movements at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Karl Marx in particular used the term proletarian for members of the class of wage workers who are forced to sell their labor and can therefore be exploited by the bourgeoisie . According to Marx, white-collar workers are also among the proletarians, since they also earn most of their livelihood by selling their labor. As a result, the fine lifestyle of the upper classes - as in ancient Rome - was based primarily on the fact that they exploited the great majority. The proletarians, however, formed - according to Marx - the backbone of the state, because numerically they represented the majority of a people, had to toil for their modest wages for the benefit of the ruling classes and worked their way through (health). The short form “Prolet” was derived from the term “Proletarian” (“Proletarians of all countries, unite!”): Prolet - how much longer? Throw off the ox yoke!

During and in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution and later in the Soviet Union , artists and cultural workers went in search of a new, appropriate form of proletarian culture for the new social realities. The short form “Prolet” became part of the new term “ Proletkult ”, which in its supposed naturalness and directness was however strongly distorted and unilaterally restricted by indoctrination and censorship of the (supposedly) socialist totalitarian states.

The terms proletariat, proletarian and proletarian were thus predominantly used in Marxist class theory. In the twentieth century the concept of social class and the terms proletarian and proletarian received competition from other models for describing and interpreting the social structure of societies. In particular, layers and milieu models . The terms proletarian and proletarian are mostly not in use here. They are replaced by terms such as lower class, new lower class, traditional and traditional working class milieu (SINUS milieus), entertainment milieu (Gerhard Schulze). The terms proletarian or proletarian are rarely used, particularly in the context of lifestyle, consumer and choice research . In addition to the Marxist context, the term proletus was preserved in colloquial language, but here with a clear negative connotation.

In contrast to “Prolet”, the terms “Proll”, “Prol” or “Prolo” are comparatively young. They are used almost exclusively as a word of abuse or abuse. The terms are placeholders for a collection of different classical prejudices, negative associations and negative clichés regarding people who, from the speaker's point of view, are supposedly located at the lower edge of society ( lower class ) and often also under the speaker's own social status, entirely regardless of whether it is based on income, social standing, education, intelligence, sophistication or based on the type of work (simple, executive, poorly qualified and / or dirty work ; worker identity).

While the terms proletcult or proletarian culture are appreciative terms for a specific culture of the proletariat, terms such as “proll” subsume cultural characteristics that are assumed to be cultural inferiority, a distance from civilization or a distance from highly cultural patterns. Accordingly, the person so named does not actually have to belong to the proletariat. For example, people who have made money ( nouveau riche ) or people who have risen to influential positions are also referred to, who are nevertheless said to have the corresponding educational and cultural distance. Depending on the user of the term, there are very different, sometimes contradicting characteristics, properties and affiliations that are clichéd ascribed to a "proll". Mentioned Examples are uncouth behavior, hobbies such as auto tuning and bodybuilding , taste for scatology and sweatpants for Ballermann rituals and attack dogs , as well as beer and high television consumption .


The different manifestations of proletarian (and supposedly proletarian) culture, as well as the various images and clichés associated with the terms proletarian and proletarian, are received and processed very differently in the media and the arts. On the one hand, there is a socially critical examination of the realities of life (e.g. in works by the Berlin cartoonist Heinrich Zille , generally in realism in art and partly in socially critical hip-hop ). On the other hand, there is also an irony or stylization that brings some representations to the accusation of classicism . In this context, some fictional characters and highly stylized clichés have established themselves, for example the cliché of the chubby , tuning- enthusiastic manta ray driver .

In comedy, film (especially comedies) and television, as well as in humorous literature, the phenomenon is repeatedly caricatured and stylized:

See also


  • Owen Jones : Prolls: Demonizing the Working Class. 2012 (Orig .: Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class )

Web links

Wiktionary: Prolet  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations