This is again a term from Gramsci. In The Modern Prince and The Prison Notebooks Gramsci describes the subaltern classes as those subordinated by hegemony excluded from any meaningful role in a regime of power. Gramsci himself has workers in mind, but the term has also been used to describe other groups who are excluded and do not have a position from which to speak--for example peasants women. Gramsci further notes that "the subaltern classes, by definition, are not unified and cannot unite until they are able to become a 'State'".
Last Modified: 19 April, 2002